Police Make Arrests Over Zimbabwe Elephant Poisoning

image: EPA
image: EPA

Six men accused of killing 41 elephants with cyanide, have been arrested by Zimbabwean police, according to state media.

Police official Muyambirwa Muzzah was quoted on Friday as saying rangers found several elephant carcasses after following tracks in the southwestern Hwange National Park.

Muzzah said a cache of tusks, worth $120,000 on the illegal ivory market, and other remains were found near water holes that had been laced with cyanide.

He said the six were arrested when they returned to collect the ivory and they are suspected of operating from the western city of Bulawayo.

The police official said hundreds of wild animals feeding on the dead elephants could also die from poisoning.

The Bulawayo Chronicle newspaper reported on Friday that poachers arrested in May for poisoning wildlife were jailed for two years.

The South African Mail and Guardian newspaper said poaching of elephants on the continent has increased substantially with a recent report saying at least 25,000 were killed last year.

The report also said the illegal ivory trade had doubled since 2007.

Meanwhile, Kenya’s first lady Margaret Kenyatta on Thursday called on the international community to place a moratorium on ivory trading in order to save the elephant from extinction.

Margaret who has launched an anti-poaching campaign dubbed “Hands off our Elephants,” whose main objective is to educate Kenyans and the world on the need to conserve the elephant for posterity also called on the world to help Nairobi save her elephants.

“To address the problem of poaching there requires global action and we ask our friends especially those where ivory is in demand and where domestic ivory markets exist to help us,” she said at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi.

Kenya lost 289 elephants to poaching in 2011 and another 384 elephants in 2012. Lion is also one of the most endangered animals not only in Kenya but across Africa, according to statistics from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

The first lady, who also adopted a baby elephant, said poaching was not only a conservation problem but also affects Kenya’s economic stability, prosperity and security.

She stressed that elephants are also a major tourist attraction to Kenya, saying the government earns revenues totaling to 1.34 billion U. S. dollars annually.

Ivory trade threatened over 300,000 jobs in the country with millions of other direct and indirect beneficiaries from tourism being affected, according to the Kenyan first lady.

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