Edson Chidziya, the director general of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority said Monday the killing of the jumbos by cyanide poisoning was an emerging challenge they were now grappling with.
“All along we had been fighting poachers with armed gangs which were easy to detect, but this menace of poisoning, it’s actually a new phenomenon that we are all trying to fight,” Chidziya told a parliamentary portfolio committee.
He said ever since Zimbabwe experienced its first ugly episode of cyanide poisoning in 2013 where more than 100 elephants were killed in Hwange National Park, cases of the mammal poisoning in the country’s wildlife parks were being recorded.
Out of the close to 100 killed last year, 32 of them were killed by cyanide poisoning in Hwange National Park, the country’s largest wildlife sanctuary, he said.
Chidziya said there was a worrying trend where locals were increasingly being involved in poaching activities.
“We are seeing a trend where local involvement in poaching is increasing and it also adds to our complexity in that we are dealing with our own people who we are supposed to be working with in fighting poaching,” he said.
He said the parks agency, which recently received anti-poaching equipment from China, was upping its anti-poaching activities and had over the last five years detected close to 8,000 incursions and accounted for 175 poachers, 145 of whom were locals.
The parks agency had also roped in security services to assist in fighting the scourge, Chidziya said.
Zimbabwe last year lost at least 50 rhinos to poaching, more than double the number killed the previous year.
Zimbabwe boasts of a rich wildlife heritage but increased poaching is threatening to destroy the wildlife population, especially that of rhino which has declined from a high of around 2,000 in the 1990s to below 1,000 now. Enditem