Poaching ruled out in mystery as 11 elephants found dead in Zimbabwe

Mystery as 11 elephants are found dead in Zimbabwe: Poaching ruled out as animals all retained their tusks

  • The carcasses were discovered in Pandamasue Forest in the west of the country
  • Cyanide poisoning has also been ruled out as a cause of the elephants’ deaths 
  • Blood samples have been taken to a laboratory to determine what killed them

Zimbabwe is investigating the mysterious deaths of 11 elephants after park authorities ruled out poaching. 

The carcasses were discovered on Friday in Pandamasue Forest, between Hwange National Park and Victoria Falls, in the west of the country.  

The dead elephants were found with the tusks still on their bodies, meaning they were not killed by poachers. 

Cyanide poisoning has also been ruled out as a cause of the deaths.  

An elephant walks near zebras in Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe (file photo)

In recent years hunters in Zimbabwe have poisoned dozens of elephants and taken their ivory tusks to flog to illegal traders. 

Blood samples have since been taken to a laboratory to determine the cause of their deaths.

Tinashe Farawo, spokesman of the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, said: ‘We can only ascertain the cause of death after the tests but we have ruled out cyanide poisoning.

‘Only elephants were affected, no vultures or any other animals were affected. Initial tests show that it is not cyanide. 

‘We are also ruling out poachers because the tusks were intact.’

Africa was home to 1.3 million elephants in the 1970s but today only around 500,000 remain (file photo)

The mysterious deaths of the elephants in Zimbabwe appears similar to the deaths last month of more than 275 elephants in neighboring Botswana. 

Scientists are still investigating the deaths of the elephants in the Okavango Delta area with poaching, poisoning and anthrax all ruled out.

Botswana has the world’s largest elephant population, estimated at 156,000 and Zimbabwe has the second largest, estimated at 85,000. 

Last year about 200 elephants in Zimbabwe died of starvation as a result of the country’s drought. 

Africa was home to 1.3 million elephants in the 1970s but today only around 500,000 remain. 

Gangs hunted and killed elephants and rhinos to feed an Asian demand for ivory and horns for use in folk medicines. 

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