Poachers in Zimbabwe have taken their hunt for elephants to a whole new level by poisoning their watering hole. Six men have been arrested in connection with the deaths of forty-one elephants in Harare that drank from a water source poisoned with cyanide. The men are suspected of amassing a stockpile of ivory tusks by poisoning several watering holes frequented by elephants in the region.
Park rangers at the Hwange National Park near Harare became suspicious after finding several elephant carcasses last week. The rangers followed tracks that led to even more elephant carcasses at a succession of well-known watering holes. Police officials were called in and eventually found $120,000 worth of ivory tusks stashed near each of the poisoned water holes; they were likely bound for the illegal ivory market.
In addition to killing elephants, the cyanide poisoning could also affect other animals such as zebra and impala that also drink from these water holes. Animals such as hyenas or even vultures that feed on the poisoned elephants’ bodies are also at risk.
Zimbabwean police have traced the cyanide poisoning to six poachers who they believe are operating an ivory trade business out of Bulawayo. Although the accused poachers are in custody and still face a trial, other poachers who have used poison to kill elephants and rhinos earlier this year were sentenced to two years in prison for their acts. The men in this case could face other charges including wildlife endangerment and possession of the $120,000 in ivory tusks that they intended to sell.
Via Huffington Post