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Dead elephant after poisoned with cyanide
The deceased lactating female elephant was discovered with a pile of coarse salt and cyanide directly underneath her © Bumi Hills Foundation

Sourced from third-party site: Bumi Hills Foundation

A lactating female elephant has died after being poisoned with cyanide in the Bumi Hills area in Zimbabwe. According to Bumi Hills Foundation, this is the second elephant to be poached in the area since December 2017, though is the first incident where cyanide has been used.

At the end of April this year, staff at Musango Safari Camp found suspicious piles of coarse salt near the camp. The salt was placed along strategic elephant paths and near natural water pans that were drying up. After a sample analysis it was revealed that the material was course salt mixed with cyanide in a very concentrated form. In total four sites were found, and the cyanide, with the surrounding soil, were removed and incinerated.

This method has been used to poison hundreds of elephants in Hwange National Park far to the west, but this is the first recorded case of cyanide being used in this area.

coarse salt laced with cyanide
The coarse salt laced with cyanide © Bumi Hills Foundation

On 2nd May, a report from the camp indicated that they had discovered a dead elephant cow. Upon closer inspection the investigation unit found that she was lactating, meaning that there was a strong possibility that there was now an orphaned elephant in the area. The unit also found cyanide located underneath the elephant, highlighting its deadly and quick-reacting effects.

The elephant carcass was cremated to decontaminate the affected areas and to protect other wildlife from coming into contact with it.

Investigations are ongoing and currently a search is underway for the orphaned elephant calf, as well as to find any further signs of contamination.

Bumi Hills Foundation said that “this incident highlights how vulnerable Zimbabwe’s wild areas really are and as this is the first known poisoning incident in our area, the poaching game has yet again changed requiring us to change our tactics and vigilance”.

Readers can contribute funds towards aiding the search for the elephant calf and the ongoing investigation by emailing Bumi Hills Foundation.

Shenton Safaris
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