.     Poachers in Zimbabwe have poisoned more than 300 elephants and hundreds of other animals since July, in what conservationists consider the worst massacre in southern Africa in 25 years.

Poachers laced waterholes and salt licks with cyanide, which killed not only the originally targeted elephants, but also kudus and buffalos who share the same waterholes.

 

After the animals collapsed, lions, hyenas and vultures that came to eat the corpses were also struck down.

Zimbabwe is home to some of Africa’s largest elephant herds, with half of its estimated 80,000 population thought to be in Hwange

.Tom Milliken, programme leader for the Elephant and Rhino Traffic network, said:

“This is the largest massacre of elephant in this part of the world for the last 25 years.

“This (use of buckets of water) is seductive for elephants at this dry time of year when they’re looking hard for water. Cyanide is a new weapon against wildlife.” Since the first poisoning was discovered back in July, 14 people have been arrested, including officers who were bribed to look the other way.

Saviour Kasukuwere, Zimbabwe’s environment minister, said: ‘We are declaring war on the poachers.

‘We are responding with all our might because our wildlife, including the elephants they are killing, are part of the natural resources and wealth that we want to benefit the people of Zimbabwe.’

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