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Authorities Express Worry Over Mysterious Elephants Death in Zimbabwe




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By Daniel Jones, Harare

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Zimbabwe’s wildlife authorities have been forced to dig deeper into science after 11 elephants were found dead under mysterious circumstances near the border with Botswana, with cyanide poisoning and poaching being ruled out.

The carcasses were discovered last Friday in Pandamasue Forest, one of the wildlife havens between Victoria Falls and Hwange in western Zimbabwe on the border with Botswana.

Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) veterinary doctors have taken samples for laboratory tests.

Over the years, hundreds of elephants and other animals especially in the country’s biggest sanctuary, the Hwange National Park south-west of Victoria Falls died as a result of the deadly cyanide poison laced on salt licks, fruits and water bodies by poachers.

In the latest incident, Zimparks suspects anthrax to be the cause of death although results have not shown anything while poaching and cyanide poisoning have been ruled out because the tasks were intact.

The casualties are sub-adults and calves.

Zimparks spokesperson Tinashe Farawo said lab tests will guide the way forward.

“We have taken samples to the lab as we are investigating the cause of the deaths. Our veterinary doctors are on the ground and preliminary findings have ruled out poaching and cyanide poisoning because the tasks were intact and there was no other animal or vultures that was affected. The affected animals are sub adults and juveniles which all died within the proximity of water sources,” said Farawo.

Wildlife is Zimbabwe’s tourism draw card as majority of tourists visit the Victoria Falls and Hwange National Park for game drives to view the Big Five game.

The biggest fear among wildlife authorities is a possible invasion by a mysterious condition that has left close to 400 elephants dead across the border in Botswana’s eastern Okavango Delta and Seronga area.

Botswana authorities are still investigating the cause of the deaths after laboratory tests done in South Africa and Zimbabwe proved inconclusive.

Botswana which for some years had been leading Southern Africa on a campaign against Cites ban on wildlife hunting, has the world’s largest elephant population estimated to be 130 000.

Zimbabwe has more than 55 000 elephants against a carrying capacity of 15 000.

Last year Zimbabwe lost more than 200 elephants to drought.

On the other hand, more than 50 people have been reported dead while 40 were injured since January this year, as a result of attack by wild animals particularly elephants, lions, crocodiles and buffaloes.


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