What Trophy Hunting Does to the Elephants It Leaves Behind

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/11/elephant-trophy-hunting-psychology-emotions/546293/

The legal African hunting programs that the Trump administration is reviewing affect more than population numbers.

Elephants play against a hazy sky.
Elephants play in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park.Goran Tomasevic / Reuters
If you were an elephant, you might be puzzling over human behavior this week. On Monday, the animal-rights attorney Steven Wise filed a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of three privately owned Asian elephants, arguing that the animals are “legal persons” who have a right to bodily liberty and should be free to live in a sanctuary. Then, on Thursday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the remains of elephants legally hunted in Zimbabwe and Zambia could now be legally imported to the United States as trophies.

This new policy overturned a ban put in place by the Obama administration in 2014. African elephants are considered “threatened” under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, a step below being endangered. The animals’ numbers have plunged from around 10 million 100 years ago to around 400,000 today, largely because of poaching and habitat loss. The Fish and Wildlife Service has not changed the elephants’ status; instead, it now argues that supporting “legal, well-managed hunting programs” will help provide “much-needed conservation dollars to preserve habitats and protect wild herds” in Zimbabwe and Zambia, the agency’s principal deputy director, Greg Sheehan, said in a news release.

But then, to further complicate matters, President Donald Trump tweeted Friday evening that nothing would actually change until he “reviews all conservation facts.”

The idea that killing more elephants will help save the species is counterintuitive, and its line of reasoning is difficult for many conservation organizations to support: Let rich hunters pay hefty sums to shoot elephants, and use the money to help conservation efforts and local communities. Supposedly, the villagers won’t then need to poach elephants to feed their families and pay their kids’ school fees. Still, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, or IUCN, a respected organization that sets the conservation status for all species, supportsthe notion.

But the evidence that “hunting elephants saves them” is thin. The hunting-safari business employs few people, and the money from fees that trickles down to the villagers is insignificant. A 2009 report from the IUCN revealed that sport hunting in West Africa does not provide significant benefits to the surrounding communities. A more recent report by an Australian economic-analysis firm for Humane Society International found that trophy hunting amounts to less than 2 percent of tourism revenue in eight African countries that permit it.*

And then, there is a larger moral question: How does hunting affect male elephants, especially the “big tuskers” that hunters want, and the overall population?

If elephants are recognized as legal persons, a term the U.S. courts have granted corporations and a New Zealand court gave to a river (elsewhere the term has been extended to chimpanzeesa bear, and the environment), it would be more difficult to hunt them at all—let alone import their body parts. Wise’s lawsuit cites extensive scientific studies that have established elephants’ cognitive abilities, emotional and empathetic natures, complex social lives, lifelong learning, and memory skills. “Taken together, the research makes it clear elephants are autonomous beings who have the capacity to choose how to live their lives as elephants,” he tells me.

One thing elephants would not choose, Wise and elephant researchers agree, is to be hunted. “It doesn’t matter to elephants if they are killed by poachers or trophy hunters,” says Joyce Poole, who has studied African elephants in the wild in Kenya and Mozambique for more than 40 years and is the codirector of ElephantVoices, a conservation organization. “Either way, you’re a killer. And if elephants understand that about you, they change their behavior.”

Elephants aren’t considered game animals in most African countries with substantial populations of these animals. But trophy hunters after large male elephants can seek their prey in South Africa, Namibia, Cameroon, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Gabon, and Mozambique. Kenya banned the sport in 1973, while Tanzania continued to permit legal hunting. That caused problems for the elephants of Kenya’s Amboseli National Park, says Poole, who was studying the large males in the park at the time. The park borders Tanzania, and after the Tanzanian government opened a hunting block on the opposite side, the Amboseli male elephants who wandered across became prized targets. 

“It was an awful time,” Poole recalled, “because on one side, the elephants learned to trust tourists—generally white people—in cars. From our studies, we know they can smell the difference between whites and local people. They also distinguish us by our languages. They know people who speak Maa, the language of the local Maasai people, may throw spears at them; those who speak English don’t.” However, the tables were turned on the Tanzanian side of the border. There, white people in cars who drove up close to see an elephant might lean out with a camera—or a rifle.

“The elephants didn’t run because they didn’t expect to be shot,” Poole said. Two of the large males she was studying were lost this way to trophy hunters. She and others protested to the Tanzanian government, and these particular hunting blocks were eventually closed.

Poole does not know how the loss of these big males, who’d fathered many calves, affected the other elephants. Female elephants, though, do mourn family members who die, and are especially troubled when the matriarch, their leader, passes. In 2003, for instance, researchers in Kenya’s Samburu National Reserve watched as Eleanor, an elephant family’s matriarch, died from natural causes. When Eleanor fell heavily to the ground, Grace, a matriarch from another family, used her tusks to lift her friend and helped her to her feet. Despite Grace’s efforts, Eleanor died that night. She had a tiny, six-month-old calf who never left her side. In a photograph, the calf stands like a small sentinel beside her mother’s body, while the rest of the family bunches together, grieving. 

Researchers have rarely seen similar moments among male elephants, who as adults, live away from the female herds they grew up in, and return only to mate. That behavior led to a “myth that males are far less social than females,” said George Wittemyer, a conservation biologist at Colorado State University in Fort Collins who has studied elephants in Kenya for more than 20 years. His new research contradicts this notion. “Actually, the males are always in groups and have preferences for certain companions. They’re not the loners they’ve been made out to be,” he said.

“The death of a bull will cause less disruption than the death of a family member,” said Iain Douglas-Hamilton, a zoologist who founded the organization Save the Elephants. “If a bull is shot while associating with a family the others will normally run away.” But he noted: “Bulls will defend or help each other sometimes, when one is down.”

From a population standpoint, “older male elephants are very important to the health and genetic vitality of a population,” said Cynthia Moss, who has led the Amboseli Elephant Research Project in Kenya since 1972. While hunters in the past have used the belief that older males are reproductively senile as an argument for killing them for their ivory, research has revealed that they are in fact an elephant population’s primary breeders. “By living to an older age, [older males show that] they have the traits for longevity and good health to pass on to their offspring,” Moss said. “Killing these males compromises the next generation of the population.”

It’s not clear if the Fish and Wildlife Service will consider how trophy hunting affects individual elephants or their families. The agency didn’t comment on Trump’s tweet when contacted, but later issued a public statement confirming that permits would be put on hold. “President Trump and I have talked and both believe that conservation and healthy herds are critical,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in the statement.

Wise believes that the emotional and psychological suffering the elephants endure from this sport is obvious. “One day it will be seen for the moral outrage that it is,” he said.

Before Trump’s tweet, the Fish and Wildlife Service had intended to begin issuing permits for importing elephant trophies on Friday. The new policy would apply to elephants hunted in Zimbabwe between January 21, 2016, and December 31, 2018, as well as elephants hunted in Zambia from 2016 to 2018. Regardless of how hunting affects elephants, if the policy goes through, some hunters will have trophies waiting for them in those countries.

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Good News: Trump puts elephant trophy imports on hold

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-42035832

  • 18 November 2017
Elephants at Mana Pools, ZimbabweImage copyrightSPL
Image captionThe US Fish and Wildlife Service argues hunting “will enhance the survival of the African elephant”

President Donald Trump has suspended the import of elephant hunting trophies, only a day after a ban was relaxed by his administration.

Imports of trophies from elephants legally hunted in Zambia and Zimbabwe had been set to resume, reversing a 2014 Obama-era ban.

But late on Friday, President Trump tweeted the change was on hold until he could “review all conservation facts”.

The move to relax the ban had sparked immediate anger from animal activists.

“Your shameful actions confirm the rumours that you are unfit for office,” said French actress and animal-rights activist Brigitte Bardot in a letter to President Trump.

Protests spread on social media with many sharing images of President Trump’s sons posing with dead animals during their hunting trips in Africa.

One photo of Donald Trump Jr shows him holding the amputated tail of a dead elephant.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) had argued that hunting fees could aid conservation of the endangered animals.

Experts say that populations of African elephants are plummeting.

Their numbers dropped by about 30% from 2007-14, according to the 2016 Great Elephant Census.

The non-profit group’s report found a population drop of 6% in Zimbabwe alone.

Despite their listing under the Endangered Species Act, there is a provision in US law that allows permits to import animal parts if there is sufficient evidence that the fees generated will actually benefit species conservation.

In 2015 a US dentist from Minnesota killed a famous lion named Cecil in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park.

Cecil’s death triggered an outrage in the US and Zimbabwe, and briefly forced the hunter into hiding.

Brigitte Bardot says Trump ‘unfit’ after permitting elephant trophies

 https://www.modernghana.com/news/817234/brigitte-bardot-says-trump-unfit-after-permitting-elephan.html
AFP
French actress and animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot had previously criticized US President Donald Trump over his administration's move to loosen restrictions on hunting bears and wolves on federally protected land in Alaska.  By ERIC FEFERBERG (AFP/File)

French actress and animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot had previously criticized US President Donald Trump over his administration’s move to loosen restrictions on hunting bears and wolves on federally protected land in Alaska. By ERIC FEFERBERG (AFP/File)

French screen legend and animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot on Friday slammed US President Donald Trump as “unfit for office” after his administration’s “shameful actions” in authorizing the import of Zimbabwean elephant hunting trophies.

The move Thursday reverses a prohibition imposed under former president Barack Obama, permitting the import of “sport-hunted trophies from elephants hunted in Zimbabwe” between January 21, 2016 and December 31, 2018. Zambia will also be covered under the revised rule.

“No despot in the world can take responsibility for killing off an age-old species that is part of the world heritage of humanity,” Bardot said in a letter to Trump, released through Fondation Brigitte Bardot.

The move is “a cruel decision backed by Zimbabwe’s crazy dictator and it confirms the sick and deadly power you assert over the entire plant and animal kingdom.”

“Your shameful actions confirm the rumors that you are unfit for office,” the 83-year-old added.

According to the Great Elephant Census project, African savannah elephant populations fell by 30 percent between 2007 and 2014, while Zimbabwe saw a drop of six percent.

Hyderabad Hunter Shot Serial Killer Elephant In Hours

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/hyderabad-hunter-shot-serial-killer-elephant-in-hours-1736969

Nawab Shafat Ali Khan told AFP he shot the elephant late on Friday, a day prior to World Elephant Day, hours after being called in by authorities.

Hyderabad Hunter Shot Serial Killer Elephant In Hours

A rogue elephant was shot dead in Taljhari forest of the Sahibgunj district in Jharkhand. (AFP)

NEW DELHI: 

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. Top hunter from Hyderabad shot elephant that killed 15 people since March
  2. The elephant said to have lost way after it was separated from its herd
  3. 100 people including forest officials, villagers took part in the hunt

India’s top hunter from Hyderabad told on Saturday how he felled a rogue elephant which had killed 15 people in a series of attacks since March.

Nawab Shafat Ali Khan told AFP he shot the elephant late Friday just hours after being called in by authorities. Saturday was World Elephant Day.

Mr Khan said he shot the elephant at point-blank range, but before the animal fell it tried to swing its trunk at the hunting party, forcing him to fire a second time.

<>The union environment ministry estimates a human dies every day in the country in clashes with endangered animals — the vast majority crushed by elephants.

Experts say violent encounters between elephants and humans are increasing as forests are cleared for human settlements and industry.

Rescue Gajraj the Elephant From Torture at Indian Temple

https://animalpetitions.org/243668/rescue-gajraj-the-elephant-from-alleged-torture-at-temple/

Target: Modi Narendra, Prime Minister of India 

Goal: Rescue Gajraj the elephant, who has been tortured and held in captivity for over 50 years, from the Satara Temple.

A 63-year-old elephant named Gajraj has been living in devastating conditions for most of his life. Currently, he is being kept in chains as a tourist attraction at the Satara Temple in India. Before he was there, he was used by handlers to beg visitors for money. Since becoming ill and too sick to continue doing that, he was left at the Satara Temple.

Gajraj’s living conditions were revealed anonymously to The Sun newspaper in the U.K. in the form of video footage. Due to being chained to a hard floor, he has developed abscesses on his hind quarters and elbows. He reportedly spends time every day trying to free himself from those chains. Pictures also show that the ends of his tusks have been cut off and that he has overgrown and broken toenails on all of his feet.

He is also exhibiting classic signs of severe psychological distress, presumably as a result of both his social isolation and the terrible conditions he is living in. He is apparently not receiving the appropriate care because he can no longer make the handlers any money, but he does not deserve to die in agony because of that.

Something needs to be done to save Gajraj and to prevent this from happening to more animals in the future. Sign this petition to demand that the appropriate measures are taken as soon as possible.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Prime Minister Modi Narendra,

Gajraj the elephant is dying in agony at the Satara Temple and it seems that no one at that facility cares. You have the power to do something about this and to send someone in to rescue Gajraj before it’s too late.

He has spent the majority of his life being tortured and held in captivity. At the Satara Temple, he is chained to the ground and completely alone. This is driving him into severe psychological distress that no living creature deserves to experience.

We ask that you help save Gajraj and take the measures necessary to implement legislation that prevents this from happening to more animals in the future.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

https://animalpetitions.org/243668/rescue-gajraj-the-elephant-from-alleged-torture-at-temple/

11 Elephants Rescued from a mud hole

Asian elephants got stuck in a mud-filled old bomb crater in Cambodia. A collaborative rescue effort saved them all.

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On March 24, 2017, a collaborative effort between local farmers and conservationists saved 11 Asian elephants that had gotten stuck in a mud hole in the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary in Cambodia.

The hole – a mud-filled old bomb crater that dates to the Vietnam War – had been enlarged by farmers to store water. Its roughly 10-foot (3-meter) walls were too high for the elephants to scale and, as the mud dried, the elephants became further entrenched.

When the farmers discovered the elephants, they notified the Department of Environment, who in turn notified the World Conservation Society (WCS) to mobilize a rescue.

The elephants, before they were freed. Image via Wildlife Conservation Society.

The team helped water and feed the elephants to hold them over while a ramp was constructed for the elephants to escape.

A few hours after the work began, all were free.

The rescue averted what would have been a tragedy, said Tan Setha, WCS Technical Advisor to the protected area. Setha said in a statement:

This herd consisted of three adult females and eight juveniles of various ages, including a male that had almost reached maturity. These elephants represent an important part of the breeding population in Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary, and their loss would have been a major blow for conservation.

Dr Ross Sinclair, WCS Cambodia Country Director, added:

This is a great example of everyone working together in Cambodia to save wildlife. Too often the stories around conservation are about conflict and failure, but this is one about cooperation and success. That the last elephant to be rescued needed everyone to pull together on a rope to drag it to safety is symbolic of how we have to work together for conservation.

Bottom line: Eleven Asian elephants were rescued from a mudhole in Cambodia in March 2017, thanks to a collaboration between local farmers and conservatioinists.

Elephants Get a Reprieve as Price of Ivory Falls

Demand for Ivory Drops, and Elephants Benefit

The price of ivory has dropped by more than half in the past three years. This decline may be good news for elephants that have been targeted for their tusks.

NAIROBI, Kenya — Finally, there’s some good news for elephants.

The price of ivory in China, the world’s biggest market for elephant tusks, has fallen sharply, which may spell a reprieve from the intense poaching of the past decade.

According to a report released on Wednesday by Save the Elephants, a respected wildlife group in Kenya, the price of ivory is less than half of what it was just three years ago, showing that demand is plummeting.

Tougher economic times, a sustained advocacy campaign and China’s apparent commitment to shutting down its domestic ivory trade this year were the drivers of the change, elephant experts said.

“We must give credit to China for having done the right thing,” said Iain Douglas-Hamilton, president and founder of Save the Elephants. “There is still a long way to go to end the excessive killing of elephants for ivory, but there is now greater hope for the species.”

Elephants have been slaughtered by the thousands in recent years in what appeared to be an insatiable quest for ivory. Employing a wide range of tools, including helicopters, military-grade weaponry and poisoned pumpkins, poachers have brought down herd after herd. The poachers have also killed scores of wildlife rangers.

The tusks have been spirited out through a network of African gangs and corrupt government officials. A vast majority of ivory ends up in China, where a rapidly growing middle class has coveted it for bracelets, combs, statuettes and other status symbols. That demand has pushed the price of ivory so high that the tusks from a single elephant could be worth more than $100,000. That, in turn, encouraged many hunters and traders in Africa to ruthlessly pursue more elephants.

This may be a sign of how a sustained global advocacy campaign can actually work. For several years, celebrities, political leaders and passionate wildlife advocates around the world have been urging China to put a stop to its ivory trade. In China, there are officially registered shops selling ivory and a thriving black market doing the same. Last December, China responded, announcing it was shutting down all ivory commerce by the end of 2017. It seems the price of ivory has dropped in anticipation of the ban; many analysts believe it will soon drop further.

Researchers for Save the Elephants said the Chinese ivory business seemed depressed, with vendors pessimistic about their future. Many are replacing ivory jewelry and trinkets with items made from alternative materials, like clamshell. According to the report, China plans to shut ivory factories at the end of this month and close all retail outlets by the end of the year.

But there still seem to be some high rollers out there who want their ivory.

In one store in Nanjing, researchers saw “a 38-layered magic ball,” made from ivory, selling for $248,810.

Drought forces wildlife to spread across larger areas

Hindustan Times:  Man-animal conflict increases as Kerala faces severe drought
INDIA Updated: Feb 19, 2017
http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/man-animal-conflict-increases-as-kerala-faces-severe-drought/story-ETkcrWYmj29vU2I2VGGN7K.html

As Kerala slips into an unprecedented drought, wild animals have started raiding human settlements in search of water and food, endangering lives of people settled in fringe areas of the forest.

Last week three people were gored to death by elephant herds in separate incidents in the forested Idukki and Wayanad districts.

In the drought-hit Wayanad – the north Kerala district saw 72% deficit rainfall during the last two monsoons – people say besides elephants, other animals like, bison, deer and boars, made regular incursions into their villages.

Pepper plantation worker Nagappan, 34, was gored to death by a tusker three days ago in the district. About one-third of the district has forest cover.

According to forest officials, usually nearly 800 elephants are spotted along the Kabani riverbanks, a favourite summer habitat of jumbos in the Nilagiris, but this year their numbers dwindled to 120 as the river has partially dried up.

“Devoid of food and water, the elephant herds have become aggressive. Small crackers or fire torches fail to deter them these days. Bison and deer are behaving like domesticated animals,” said Velayudhan, a farm labourer of Thalappadi in Wayanad.

Another farmer in Ambalavayal said he lost crops worth Rs 2 lakh in the last three weeks as animals raided his farm.

“Two weeks ago, a tusker strayed almost seven km inside the human settlement.

We dug up 12 small ponds deep in the forest to check this menace,” said Wayanad district collector, BS Thirumeni.

Fed up with monkey menace, a 52-year-old widow had committed suicide in Thiruvananthapruam last week following which forest officials put up monkey traps in the area. Her relatives claimed she resorted to the extreme step after her frequent pleas fell on deaf ears.

Free Packy the Elephant From 54 years of Captivity in The Oregon Zoo!

1,809 SUPPORTERS IN OREGON
188,811 SUPPORTERS
190,000 GOAL
Elephants don’t belong In zoos, especially not Packy.

The heartbreaking story of Packy begins when he was born at the Oregon Zoo in 1962 to his Mother Bella. Packy has spent 54 years behind bars. 

Packy is the oldest male Asian elephant in North America, and he is in extremely poor health. He was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 2013, and is still undergoing treatment. Packy is also plagued by cracked nails, lesions, and abscesses on his right foot. Records reveal that he receives Ibuphofen and Acetaminophen for lameness, and near daily attempts to manage the poor condition of his feet.

Packy has recurring abscesses and lesions on the left side of his head caused by lying on a concrete floor for extended periods of time. He also has a hygoma – a soft fluid-filled subcutaneous swelling over a bony prominence – on the right side of his head.
Due to his failing health, Packy is no longer visible to the public. He is said to be suffering alone in his enclosure, simply waiting to die without ever knowing freedom. His sad existence is a reminder of why it is inhumane and unethical to breed elephants in captivity, denying them of everything that is innate to who they are as wild animals.
The Oregon Zoo has taken a majestic animal and turned him into a tragedy. After 54 years of continued suffering, Packy deserves to spend his last years in a sanctuary where he would be free from bars. But the zoo honestly thinks that keeping him in captivity is what is best for Packy. No, it’s what’s best for the zoo, and the greed that blinds their common sense, compassion, and love for this beautiful elephant. Their selfishness has destroyed Packy. Mentally, emotionally and physically. All for human entertainment and financial gain.
In the end, Packy’s life will not be a contribution to conservation, but a testament to the tragedy of captive breeding, and the deadening existence of exploitative zoo captivity. 

Please sign this petition demanding that the Oregon Zoo release Packy the elephant to the Performing Animal Welfare Society’s (PAWS) sanctuary in California. There, he would have the opportunity to roam acres of natural habitat, play in a pond, forage for fresh vegetation, befriend other elephants, and enjoy a full, healthy, and enriched life.

Thank you very much.

more

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/657/820/269/

 

A savage end for the elephants killed by men who were supposed to protect them: Slaughtered beasts’ remains lie scattered after rangers poisoned them in pay dispute

 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3295044/A-tragic-savage-end-elephants-killed-men-supposed-protecting-Slaughtered-beasts-remains-lie-scattered-rangers-poisoned-pay-dispute.html#ixzz3q6RhD4BV

  • 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.

Elephants lie slaughtered on the ground after reportedly being poisoned and mutilated by disgruntled rangers at Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe in a reported pay dispute

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

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.’