Each year, around 25,000 elephants are killed by poachers for the black market trade of ivory or “white gold,” reports WildAid. Many African countries have been a hotbed of poaching activities for the last few years, as demand for ivory and other animal parts and pelts is on the rise. Solutions have been proposed from hiring more park rangers to shooting poachers on the spot, but poachers are becoming more aggressive than ever — some even resorting to poisoning.
A new investigation this week has revealed that over 300 elephants and other safari animals have been killed by cyanide poisoning in Zimbabwe’s largest national park, Hwange. This incident has been deemed as the worse “single massacre in southern Africa for 25 years,” according to The Telegraph, who first broke the story.
The massacre is even more upsetting when taking a few Zimbabwe facts into consideration – mainly that the country is home to one of Africa’s largest surviving elephant populations and that half of the country’s estimated 80,000 elephants live in Hwange, reports The Telegraph.
The cyanide was dumped into watering holes that the elephants and other animals drank from in the park. Naturally, elephants were not the only victims of this terrible poaching event. Other wild animals including lions, hyenas, and vultures were killed after drinking from the same watering holds or feasting on the poisoned elephant carcasses.
The use of cyanide, which is cheaply available in the area for informal gold-mining activities, was uncovered back in July, but the extent of effects had yet to be determined until now.
While some of the poachers responsible for this incident have been tried and given sentences for up to 16 years in prison with high fines, it is feared that other poachers will now attempt to poison animals as a quick way to get coveted ivory.
What’s more, according to conservationists, Zimbabwe parks would need to bring on 10 times more rangers than they currently have to prevent cyanide poisoning — funding for which is not currently available.
Even though many poaching incidents might not touch us directly here in the U.S. (or some other parts of the world where our Green Monsters reside), there are still a few things we can do to help end wildlife poaching. These include:
- Sharing this story and others about poaching with family, friends, and on social media pages.
- Signing the “Blood Ivory” campaign petition from Born Free Foundation.
- Donating to organizations that work to end poaching like Born Free Foundation, WWF, and the International Anti-Poaching Foundation.
Have any other ideas to add to this anti-poaching action list? Share them with us and other Green Monsters with a comment below!
Image source: The Telegraph