08 November 2013

Poachers rule in a world gone mad

The stench of rotting elephant carcasses hangs in the air in western Zimbabwe, where wildlife officials say at least 91 elephants were poisoned with cyanide by poachers who hack off the tusks for the lucrative illegal ivory market.

Massive bones, some already bleached by the blistering sun in the Hwange National Park, litter the landscape around one remote watering hole where 18 carcasses were found. Officials say cyanide used in gold mining was spread by poachers over flat "salt pans," also known as natural, mineral-rich salt licks. They say lions, hyenas and vultures have died from feeding on contaminated carcasses or drinking nearby...

Tusks of the poisoned elephants are thought to have been smuggled into neighboring South Africa through illicit syndicates that pay desperately poor poachers a fraction of the $1,500 a kilogram (2.2 pounds) that ivory can fetch on the black market.
Officials believe at least two deeply drilled wells supplying the water holes may have also been contaminated and will likely have to be sealed. New wells will probably be drilled away from the tainted ones. "We will drill more boreholes in the park because these criminals target areas where there is a shortage of water," said Kasukuwere...

Kasukuwere said Hwange park, Africa's third largest wildlife sanctuary after the Serengeti in Tanzania and South Africa's Kruger National Park, has only about 150 rangers and few fully operational off-road vehicles for an expanse that ideally should have a staff of at least 700.

Scores of vultures, the first predators at a kill, have died from the cyanide. Rangers say their absence makes the ecological impact of the poisonings much harder to fight and control.
Photos and text via PhysOrg.


  1. This is so vile I can't find words to express my disgust for those who exploit the people who do this--the government in their own country, and the buyers. Same for rhinoceros horns. These magnificent animals slaughtered, along with the collateral damage of all the other animals, because the men who do it can't make a decent living, and the men who buy cheat them as well. They all cheat the rest of us out of the future of these poor beasts.

  2. Snipers could take care of the poachers. Just sayin'

  3. Simply escalating violence against other humans is neither moral nor effective. This comes up every few months on this blog. I keep saying it, and people keep ignoring me. Eat them.


    Private property works. The commons do not.

  4. A number of years ago, there was a movement to teach local tribes and villages how to better monetize elephants and rhinos. They pointed out that if one killed the animal, then one only profited once from that animal's death. But if they catered to tourists, then people would pay them over and over again each year to see that animal alive.

    They had startling success with the program. It got derailed when militant groups and corrupt goverment officials realized that these people could become independent and self-supporting doing this. So, they shot the animals or encouraged foreign poachers to come in and kill the animals. No animals, no tourist trade and dollars, thus no independence for the people so they would be complacent to the demands of either side of the conflict. Also, the warfare of the conflicts effectively drove away tourists.

    The good news is, in those areas that are politically stable the program works and villagers now make steady income giving tours instead of poaching the animals. Many of the hunters who were actively poaching the animals before are now protecting them, because the effect of a steady income greatly exceeds a single large windfall. It's also a lot easier than poaching.

    The bad news is, politically stable regions in Africa are too far and few between, and there are militarized groups that are more than happy to destabilize these regions for power and profit.


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