Elephants poisoned, govt must act: HGTA

The state has been called on to intervene after 81 elephants died of cyanide poisoning in Hwange National Park.

Langton Masunda, the chairperson of HGTA.
Langton Masunda, the chairperson of HGTA.

Langton Masunda, the chairperson of the Hwange/Gwayi Tourism Association told The Zimbabwean that poachers were poisoning elephants and warned that it would have far-reaching consequences for the environment, the animals, human beings, tourists and safari operators.

“Elephants are a shared natural resource. Gwayi conservancy is a buffer zone between the national park and the local communities. If the park catches a cough, the entire Gwayi conservancy sneezes,” said Masunda. “Elephants are very sensitive and intelligent animals. Whenever they sense danger, they migrate. This issue should be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

Masunda said conservancy operators were concerned about the cyanide contamination of wildlife drinking water sources in the park. Poachers, working as organised syndicates, are targetting pools frequented by the jumbos. “Very soon the rains are coming and our fear is that traces of the cyanide will be washed away and contaminate more wildlife drinking water sources.

Chances are high that more animals and birds such as vultures are likely to die as a result of feeding on the carcasses of the elephants,” said Masunda.

The Hwange ecological disaster comes at a time when tourism in the area is under serious threat from mines that have recently opened in the area. In the past two years, the whole of the Gwayi Conservation area has been parceled out as part of a Chinese coal-mining venture.

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