14 elephants die of poisoning in Zimbabwe, tusks removed from some of them

A herd of elephants gather at a watering hole in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe on Oct 14, 2015.
A herd of elephants gather at a watering hole in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe on Oct 14, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

HARARE (AFP) - At least 14 elephants died from poisoning in three separate incidents in Zimbabwe last month, with poachers suspected of being behind 11 of the deaths, parks authorities said on Wednesday (Oct 7).

Five of the pachyderms were poisoned in Hwange National Park, the country's largest, and six more were found dead by a patrol outside the park in the nearby Deka Safari area.

Some of the dead animals had their tusks removed, Carol Washaya, a spokeswoman for the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority said in a statement.

She said police had picked up five men in connection with the deaths in Hwange, in northwestern Zimbabwe.

"A total of 11 elephants died to chemical poaching in Hwange National Park and Deka Safari Area, and another three of dump-site poisoning," Ms Washaya said.

Laboratory tests showed the three deaths were due to cyanide poisoning, and authorities believe that the three elephants consumed the toxic material from a dump in Kariba town.

Poaching is common in Zimbabwe's game parks, with elephants and rhino as the main targets.

Last year, more than 100 elephants died after suspected poachers placed cyanide near their watering holes.