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Cattle in Matabelelend North Succumb to Cyanide Poisoning

Some villagers in Tsholotsho District, Matabeleland North province, say their livestock has started succumbing to cyanide poison that was used by poachers to kill elephants being targeted for their tusks attracting lucrative monetary returns in Asian markets.

The Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management says only 106 elephants have so far died due to the deadly poison but animal conservationists believe that 300 elephants have been killed by the poison at Hwange National Park.

Although VOA Studio 7 could not ascertain the number of dead livestock so far, a village headman in Tholotsho’s Phelandaba area told The Southern Eye newspaper that they have confirmed the death of two beasts.

Some villagers in Tsholotsho say it is difficult to link the dead livestock to the cyanide poison because the area faces perennial cattle deaths due to shortages of dipping chemicals.

But Member of Parliament for Tsholotsho North, Roselyn Nkomo, said despite the lack of forensic scientific evidence on the livestock deaths, people should be warned to take the issue seriously because there is fear that the cyanide would seep into wells and boreholes start affecting human beings.

This comes at a time when the national cattle herd has significantly dwindled over the years after succumbing to successive droughts. The beef herd has declined by more than 45 percent over the last few years.