FIVE elephants have died due to cyanide poisoning in the Amandundumela area in Gwaai Forest, Matabeleland North.
Forestry Commission spokesperson Violet Makoto said poachers poisoned salt licks this week and in two days, on Thursday and yesterday, five elephants had died. She said the first three carcasses were discovered on Thursday and the other two yesterday and they had already been dehorned. “Forestry Commission Forest Protection Unit guards patrolling the Amandundumela area of Gwaai Forest discovered cyanide planted on salt licks around Simunyu water point.
“This was around 12 noon yesterday (Thursday). There is no water pumping taking place at this water-pan but game like licking the soils around it. More Forest protection personnel together with ZRP officers were alerted to this incident and upon tracking the spoor, three elephant carcasses were discovered with the ivory already removed,” Makoto said.
“The team also discovered two more elephant carcasses today (yesterday). It appears the poachers are doing their business on foot as the spoor is heading towards Block O of Gwaai Forest. This brings to a total 5 elephants that have been killed this week.”
Makoto said four elephants were killed in February in the same area and two of them were found dehorned and the poachers were not caught.
In March, three suspected poachers escaped after they were spotted by forestry guards in the area. They left behind five kilogrammes of cyanide tablets suspected to have been intended for use in poisoning animals.
Elephant poisoning started in 2013 where more than 300 jumbos died in the Hwange National Park, sparking nationwide outrage.