Jail for cyanide smugglers 

THE Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) has finalised the Cyanide Bill which will provide for a six months mandatory jail term for anyone found in illegal possession of cyanide.

Source: Jail for cyanide smugglers | The Sunday Mail November 5, 2017

ZimParks spokesperson Mr Tinashe Farawo confirmed the development, saying the move is meant to curb rampant elephant poisoning.

He said, “Everything is in motion, we have since forwarded the draft to our parent ministry (Environment and Climate Ministry) and from there it goes to the Attorney General’s office before it is gazetted,” said Mr Farawo.

“We will monitor and regulate those involved in the procurement, transportation and use of cyanide at mines or laboratories. In other words, we will be accountants of how cyanide is used. This is meant to protect one of Africa’s largest elephant’s populations.

“If anyone is found in illegal possession of cyanide, he or she will face a mandatory six months jail sentence.”

The Cyanide Bill comes at a time when 400 elephants have been killed since 2013 due to cyanide poisoning.

In 2013, at least 90 elephants in the Hwange National Park were killed in two months after poachers laced watering holes and salt licks with cyanide.

Cyanide salts are used in metallurgy for electroplating, metal cleaning and removing gold from its ore.

Apart from elephants, other animals killed by the cyanide poison include buffaloes, vultures, impalas and lions.

The majority of the elephant population is found in Hwange and Gonarezhou National Park where poison is rampant. The availability of cyanide in these areas where no gold mining activities take place has raised eyebrows. Some curtail could be behind the illegal killing of animals.

Preliminary investigations by ZimParks show that some gold miners are selling the cyanide to villagers and poachers living close to parks.

It is suspected that villagers sprinkle cyanide in watering holes where elephants drink water and after the elephants have died, the poaching syndicates remove tusks.

ZimParks investigators said some of the tusks are sold to cross-border traders for a paltry US$400. These can later be resold in South Africa for up to US$10 000 per pair.

Some of the culprits are suspected to be from neighbouring countries.