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‘Chinese poison elephants’

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Some Chinese nationals are reportedly killing elephants with poison in the wildlife-rich Mushumbi Pools area, thereafter removing the tusks, the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF) has revealed.

At least nine elephants have reportedly been killed in recent weeks while several herbivores also fell victim after eating poisoned grass.

“We have received a report that a group of Chinese people are mining uranium in the Mushumbi Pools area in the north of Zimbabwe. In addition to destroying the environment and killing a variety of wildlife in the area, it is alleged that they have killed nine elephants by leaving loaves of poisoned bread for them to eat,” said ZCTF chairman Jonny Rodrigues.

Rodrigues said after killing the elephants, the Chinese were hacking off and taking away their tusks. “They are poisoning food and putting it along paths commonly used by the elephants resulting in the animals having terrible deaths. It is a disaster in the making because other animals such as hyenas come and eat the carcases and they too are affected,” he said.

“Human beings are also at risk because it’s a rural area and most of them don’t know what is happening.

They risk catching diseases if they eat the carcases.”

Rodrigues said his organisation had reported the matter to the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.

The public relations manager of the authority Caroline Washaya-Moyo confirmed a report had been made, but said investigations had yielded nothing.

“. . . The authority received a similar report, but upon investigating — found nothing,” she said.

“We however invite ZCTF to give us evidence so that we can act.”

Rodrigues said Chinese nationals were also prospecting for minerals in the area thereby damaging the environment.

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