Eyewitness News

The dead elephant was a lactating female on the shores of Lake Kariba; it’s thought there could now be an orphaned calf in need of rescue.

FILE: A female elephant and her calf in the Tembe Elephant Park Foundation 27 September 2017. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

HARARE – A female elephant has been poisoned with cyanide on the southern shores of Lake Kariba.

Conservationists say it’s the first incident of its kind in this area, which includes the Matusadona National Park.

And a major disaster was averted after they decontaminated four sites laced with the poison. The dead elephant was a lactating female; it’s thought there could now be an orphaned calf in need of rescue.

Rangers discovered four sites contaminated with cyanide mixed with coarse salt.

The method has been used to poison hundreds of elephants in Hwange National Park far to the west, but this is the first recorded case of cyanide being used in this area.

Conservation group Bumi Hills Foundation says rangers burnt the carcass of the dead elephant and decontaminated affected areas.

But the killing will be seen as a worrying change of tactic by poachers in this area.