Zimbabwe National Parks, EMA Detoxify Hwange National Park

via Zimbabwe National Parks, EMA Detoxify Hwange National Park by Jonga Kandemiiri 07.10.2013 VOA Zimbabwe 

The Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority says the process of cleaning up and detoxifying cyanide that was used by poachers to kill 90 elephants, several vultures and other carnivores, has started in Hwange National Park.

National Parks spokesperson Caroline Washaya-Moyo said the process is a bit difficult because the poachers had put the cyanide in salted soil consumed by elephants.

Washaya-Moyo said the National Parks is working with the Environmental Management Agency in scooping the contaminated soil and making sure that it is buried at a safe location.

Five poachers were arrested and three of them are already serving jail sentences of between 15 and 16 years while others are still awaiting sentencing.

Suspected cyanide dealer, Elvis Ncube, has also been arrested. He appeared in court last week facing charges of supplying restricted substances to members of the public.

Many other people are expected to appear in court soon over this incident.

Washaya-Moyo said villagers in Tsholotsho were worried about the Hwange National Park disaster as the rain season approaches.

She added that a high-powered delegation headed by Water and Environment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere met last week with the villagers and a local chief and gave the villagers until the end of this month to surrender any cyanide still in their possession.

They assured them that they will not be arrested.

Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo, who was part of the government delegation, pledged to donate a 50 kilogram bag of maize to each family after villagers pleaded with them that starvation is forcing them to engage in poaching.