IFAW – Zimbabwe Elephant Massacre a Cruel Tragedy
As many as 350 elephants are now believed to have been poisoned to death for their ivory in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, one of Africa’s premier conservation areas.
The elephants were poisoned when poachers laced waterholes and natural salt licks with cyanide. The animals would have died in agony, and untold numbers of other predators would also have died following scavenging on the carcasses.
“The level of cruelty employed to kill these elephants beggars belief,” said Jason Bell, IFAW Elephant Programme Director (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org). “They, and countless other creatures, died in excruciating pain and all for their ivory”.
Five people have been arrested, and two were last week sentenced to 15 years in prison apiece with hard labour, by a provincial magistrate’s court.
Reports of the poisonings began to emerge in late July when it was reported that 100 elephants had been found dead, but aerial surveys by hunters now report that as many as 350 carcasses are scattered across the Hwange landscape.
Hwange National Park is the largest in Zimbabwe, with a seasonal elephant population of up to 40,000 animals. It is considered one of Africa’s premier conservation areas.
The killing of the Hwange elephants is the most extensive illegal massacre of elephants in Southern Africa to date, and one of the largest continent-wide.
In West Africa, between December 2011 and March 2012, poachers shot and killed as many as 650 elephants in Bouba N’djida National Park in Cameroon.
“Wildlife crime ranks among the most serious, dangerous and damaging of International crimes along with human trafficking, drug running and illegal arms sales,” said IFAW’s Bell.
“In 2011, it was thought that between 25,000 and 50,000 elephants lost their lives to poachers, and all for their ivory which is used to make trinkets that no one needs. Only strong national and international regulations and law enforcement tactics are able to stop the kind of tragedy we have just witnessed in Zimbabwe.”
About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter