A high-powered delegation comprising three Cabinet ministers visited Hwange National Park and Tsholotsho yesterday to assess the environmental situation following the recent poisoning of 41 elephants by poachers.The horror of elephant poisoning and wildlife poaching was glaring and the ministers declared war on poaching to avert further damage.
The ministerial delegation comprised Environment, Water and Climate Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, Media, Information and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo and Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi.
The ministers flew to the scene of the recent elephant killings aboard a helicopter and had a look at the elephants’ carcasses and horns, which have since been confiscated by the police.
Minister Kasukuwere said in an interview that he was not happy with the sentences being handed to poachers and he would encourage the shoot to kill policy.
He said stiffer penalties would deter would-be poachers. Minister Kasukuwere said he would work on a wildlife conservation model that would result in communities benefiting from the conservation of wildlife, thereby creating employment.
Minister Mzembi said there was need for stakeholders to collaborate and respond to such disasters and called for the immediate isolation of affected areas and neutralisation of cyanide, that reportedly requires a generation to biodegrade.
The poachers used cyanide to poison the elephants. Wildlife poaching syndicates in Zimbabwe have become sophisticated and need appropriate responses to effectively deal with them.
The 41 elephants were killed last month by six poachers after they poisoned a water pond with granules of Cyanide and the suspects have since been arrested and were assisting police with investigations.
They are Sipho Mafu (55), Misheck Mafu (46), all of Tsholotsho, Nqobizitha Tshuma (25), Farai Chitsa (34), Tinashe Deroy Sengwayo (22) and Alexander Ngwenya (42) all of Bulawayo.
Cyanide poisoning occurs when a living organism is exposed to a compound that produces cyanide ions when dissolved in water.
Common poisonous cyanide compounds include hydrogen cyanide gas and the crystalline solids potassium cyanide and sodium cyanide.
If cyanide is inhaled, it causes a coma with seizures, apnea and cardiac arrest, with death following in a matter of minutes.
At lower doses, loss of consciousness may be preceded by general weakness, giddiness, headaches, vertigo, confusion and perceived difficulty in breathing. — Herald Reporter/ ZBC.