- WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
- Elephants were slayed using cyanide in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
- Poachers made off with three ivory tusks after the killings, officials said
- Deaths bring total number of elephants poisoned in October alone to 62
Lying slaughtered on the ground with their heads barbarically hacked off, these elephants are believed to have been killed by the very men who were meant to be protecting them.
They are among 62 elephants who have been killed in Zimbabwe in the last month alone, not by poachers, but poisoned by disgruntled rangers.
Staff at Hwange National Park have reportedly not received their already low wages and it is feared that the elephant killings in the park may be a form of ‘protest’ against management.
Horrific pictures which emerged today show their remains scattered across the dusty ground after they were mutilated for their tusks. Some are too graphic to show in full.
The most recent attack, which took place earlier this week, saw 22 elephants, including babies, poisoned using cyanide hidden in salt stones and oranges.
Rangers working in the park are notoriously badly paid for a job where they are at constant risk, fighting off heavily armed poachers.
According to an inside source, rangers have only just received their pay due last month and management have failed to pay for fuel for the pumps for the park’s watering holes, The Telegraph reported.
‘I am afraid there are serious management problems within parks,’ an unnamed source from Zimbabwe’s National Parks and Wildlife Authority told The Telegraph.
‘Some of the rangers are very dissatisfied with their remuneration and say that they are not getting some allowances they believe they should get.
‘So many of us believe that some of the poaching at the moment is organised and executed by some rangers in parks, and we don’t know how this will be sorted out.’
Monday’s discovery of 22 elephant carcasses were made in the in park’s Sinamatella area alongside 35 tusks, said Caroline Washaya-Moyo, spokeswoman for the parks and wildlife management authority.
Barbaric: Staff at Hwange National Park have reportedly not received their already low wages and it is feared that the elephant killings in the park may be a form of ‘protest’ against management
The poachers, who apparently killed the elephants with cyanide, escaped with three ivory tusks.
The grim finding – made by park rangers Monday morning – brings the number of elephants poisoned by poachers in the southern Africa country in October alone to a staggering 62.
‘We recovered 22 elephant carcasses in the Sinamatela area and so far we have also recovered 35 tusks,’ Washaya-Moyo told AFP. ‘Initial investigations indicate that there was cyanide poisoning.’
She added: ‘We continue to lobby for deterrent penalties for people found with poisonous substances such as cyanide. We can’t continue to lose wildlife at such a rate.’
Rangers are now investigating how many of the elephants – who resided at the same park as Cecil the lion, who was shot dead by dentist Walter Palmer in July – had fully developed tusks.
Speaking to the Associated Press, Washaya-Moyo said: ‘We are now trying to check how many elephants had fully developed tusks because babies are among those killed.
‘The rate at which we are losing animals to cyanide is alarming.
‘Many other species are also dying from the cyanide used by poachers to target elephants.
‘We are appealing to people in communities close to national parks to cooperate with authorities.’