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Unpaid Rangers Suspected to Have Poisoned Zimbabwe Elephants

FILE - Elephants graze inside Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park, Aug. 1, 2015.
FILE - Elephants graze inside Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park, Aug. 1, 2015.

Unpaid Hwange National Parks employees are suspected to be behind the cyanide killing of 62 elephants in the park.

British newspapers, the Daily Mail and the Telegraph quote unnamed sources Friday suggesting that some of the 62 elephants killed this month alone might have been poisoned by disgruntled rangers who are said to have gone for months without being paid.

The most recent poisoning, discovered Monday, killed 22 elephants in the Sinamatela area of Hwange.

Permanent secretary in the ministry of environment water and climate, Prince Mupazviriho, told Studio 7 he was not aware of the suspicion allegations against the disgruntled parks employees because he had been out of the country.

But a source in the ministry, who’s not authorized to speak to the media, said there are many factors leading to people supecting the rangers of being part of the problems.

"It is easier to point a finger towards the rangers because the poisonings are in areas under their control, meaning it would have been impossible for poachers to pull out the scheme without being noticed by the rangers," said the source.

Zimbabwe Conservation Trust director Johnny Rodriguez says he’s not surprised by the allegations that the parks rangers could be involved in the cyanide killings of the elephants since they have not been paid for months.

"It doesn't surprise me, I mean you know, the whole thing is you expect people to look after the Zimbabwean heritage, its actual wildlife, and yet you don't pay the staff," Rodriguez says.

He adds that this has been going on for months, adding at times the rangers were allowed to slaughter an animal to compensate for their pay.

Rodriguez says the only way to deal with the problem is to pay the rangers their outstanding salaries.

"After that then the government should make sure they are paid on time, even if it means that they have to borrow the money."

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