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Elephants Poisoned By Poachers

Elephant herd. Photo by Billy Dodson

As poaching operations continue to get ever more sophisticated and ruthless, a new method of slaughter emerges: salt.

Zimbabwe’s Chronicle reported that police had arrested a six-man poaching syndicate that is allegedly responsible for the deaths, by poison, of 41 elephants at Hwange National Park. Police recovered a total of 17 tusks during the operation.

The poachers used salt—which elephants seek out as a source of minerals—mixed with cyanide to poison the elephants.

In poaching plots using cyanide, repercussions unfortunately do not end with the tragic deaths of elephants, but go on to affect, and kill, the animals that feed on them. Thus, the poison is transported through the food chain, potentially affecting hundreds of animals.

Update 9/20/13: The current death toll—as of September 20—has risen to 69 elephants and a South African businessman, known as Ishmael, has been identified as the sponsor of the poaching syndicate that laid the poisoned salt, and several of the culprits have been arrested.

Gayane Margaryan
About the Author

Gayane is AWF's Online Communications Associate. She works with our blogs, social media, and online partners. Gayane is passionate about communicating the message of conservation through new tools and technologies and finding ways to make information easily accessible. She is a graduate of the University of Florida.

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