Poachers Kill 41 Elephants in Zimbabwe Park

B. McPherson

Poachers looking to make a quick buck on the burgeoning ivory trade have poisoned 41 elephants in Hwange National Park. The poison has been tracked to cyanide spread onto a salt pan and water holes. The destruction continues. Matriarchs would lead their families to salt and water. They die. The fertile females die. The babies die. The animals that feed on the poisoned elephants die. The animals that feed on those animals die. And for what?

The ivory of the elephant has become the new blood diamonds. The new found wealth of some Asian countries has led to a steep demand for ivory. Convention on Trade in Endangered Species(Cites) has sounded the alarm regarding the very survival of this species. According to their figures, 25 000 elephants were poached in Africa last year. An estimated 30 of them are killed every day in Tanzania.

The Philippines currently leads the world in consumption of ivory, legal or not. The dead elephants’ teeth are made into knickknacks and Christian amulets. It has been illegal to import new ivory into N. America for many years, but smuggling and loopholes ensure a supply of the bloody merchandise reaches the unscrupulous in the Americas as well.

In this latest disaster for the species, six men have been arrested and about $120 000 worth of blood ivory has been confiscated.

While the dire poverty of many who poach wildlife in Africa is often cited as reason to kill endangered animals, the poaching of rhinos and elephants is often carried out by well armed gangs equipped with poison and automatic weapons. What is the appropriate punishment for those who would exterminate a species for profit?

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