Update, Oct. 20, 2013. Estimates as high as 300 deaths and increasing; also lions, vultures, hyenas, kudu, buffalo. Alleged ZANU bigwigs involvement and cover up.
Update, Oct. 12, 2013. Elephant poisoning death toll now in excess of 90.
I first noted the reports of poisoning of 41 elephants in early September. Now it is reported that more than 80 poisoned elephant carcasses have been found and that the cyanide was present in salt blocks left near the watering holes. This suggests that other wildlife will be affected – those animals that also use the salt blocks, although no mention of this is made in any reports seen this far. A second news article attributes the problem to “illegal sanctions” imposed by the West (US, Europe). The argument is made that sanctions reduced the economy to the point that the wildlife management system was affected in terms of equipment and enforcement employment. Of interest in the second article is the statement that Zimbabwe’s elephant holding capacity is only 56,000 whereas the country has an elephant population of 120,000 and that in Hwange National Park there is a population of 45,000 elephants compared to a holding capacity of 14,600. If this is true, then the park may be in poor shape as the elephants tear up the vegetation faster than it can recover if there is an excess population.