Walter Nyamukondiwa Chinhoyi Bureau—
At least four elephants have died in Kariba in recent weeks in suspected pollution-related poisoning, blamed on improper management of waste and poaching.In the latest incident, an elephant was found dead near Mopani Bay at the weekend with its tusks miss- ing.
Investigations by police and the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority have since led to the arrest of three suspected poachers in the Nyamakate area of Hurungwe.
The area falls under Chief Chundu and has become notorious for harbouring poachers.
Doubt Paundi (28), Tapson Muchadziya (41) and Albert Machingura (49) are suspected to have killed the elephant and removing its tusks.
Their arrest followed a tip-off from members of the public that there were some people with pieces of ivory.
Investigations established that the suspects had fled to Hurungwe where investigating details managed to trace Paundi to Lima village.
During questioning, Paundi denied knowledge of the matter and ever setting foot in Kariba.
However, his denial came to nought when investigators managed to locate the commuter omnibus owned by Muchadziya, which was used to transport the tusks.
A search was conducted on the vehicle leading to the discovery of small flakes of ivory.
Presented with the evidence, Muchadziya admitted to having assisted Paundi and Machingura to transport the tusks from Kariba.
Meanwhile, three elephants died recently in what environmentalists have blamed on improper management of waste by Kariba Municipal- ity.
The local authority is being accused of not properly managing and securing its dumpsite where elephants and other animals feed and end up consuming plastics.
Investigations so far have led to the recovery of plastic in the stomachs of the dead elephants.
Environmental Management Agency Mashonaland West spokesperson Mr Munyaradzi Nhariswa confirmed the deaths of the elephants.
A total of three elephants were found dead near Kariba Municipality dumpsite between October 13 and October 23, 2016, he said.
Observations have established that Kariba Municipality was failing to manage its solid waste dump.
Investigations have established that refuse is not being compacted, resulting in litter being strewn all over the dumpsite.
There is no controlled access to the dumpsite which is left unattended, and this has exposed both wildlife and humans to toxic waste.
Chemical poisoning has been ruled out in the latest incidents.
Samples taken from the gastric fluids of the elephants tested negative for pesticides and cyanide. Samples of flesh and blood taken to the Veterinary Services Department tested negative for anthrax, said Mr Nhariswa.
Post-mortem results show that there were a lot of plastics and glass in the gut of the elephants.
EMA has since issued the municipality with an environmental protection order to control access to the dump- site.
Compliance is expected within two weeks.