African poachers kill 300 elephants with cyanide, worst slaughter in 25 years

A horrific story from the Telegraph about African poachers killing 300 elephants, and countless other animals, with cyanide.

They’re saying it’s the worst carnage they’ve seen in southern Africa in 25 years.

People like this should be shot, IMHO.

More from the Telegraph:

Poachers killed the elephants over the past three months by lacing waterholes and salt licks with cyanide. Animals are drawn to them during the dry season in the already arid and remote south-eastern section of the 5,660-square mile park.

After the elephants died, often collapsing just a few yards from the source, lions, hyenas and vultures which fed on their carcasses were also struck down, as were other animals such as kudu and buffalo that shared the same waterholes.

Zimbabwe’s authorities say the cyanide has been planted by villagers who sell the elephants’ tusks for around £300 each to cross-border traders. They can be resold in South Africa for up to £10,000 a pair, according to court papers relating one recent incident, sometimes re-emerging as carved artefacts such as bangles in Cape Town’s craft markets.

I sat next to a guy on my flight to Europe this summer, Etienne Gerber, who works in the anti-poaching business. He’s a pilot with the Zulu Anti-Poaching Wing (ZAP Wing) in South Africa. Their primary purpose is aerial surveillance to stop the poaching of rhinos.  You can read up a bit more on Etienne’s aerial surveillance work here, and here’s their Facebook page.


There’s an awful image in the video below, from Etienne’s organization, and on their Web site (link here) of a rhino that was butchered just for its tusks.  Really horrific – so be forewarned, I can’t even post it here.

They rely exclusively on donations for their budget.  You can donate if you like via this Web site, “GivenGain” – I’d never heard of this particular donation site, givengain, but it’s used by Greenpeace Africa and the Nelson Mandela Center, so it’s clearly legit. I gave $50 – it’s quite a nicely easy donation site (though – hint hint – ZAP et. al., need to make it MUCH clearer on their Web site how to donate, with a link to the donation site :-).

Here’s a video showcasing ZAP Wing’s important work.  (And on a happier note, here’s a n*ked skydive for rhinos, sure to inspire you. This would not be my, Etienne :)

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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  • carrlee boisonault

    i feel the same way hun good for u to say that love mommy!!

  • carrlee boisonault

    i think this is really wrong and what if you where that animal or what ever it would heart u i bet just think of all of the babeies out there that dont have a mommy or daddy that is just sad so why do it if it hurts them its not the right thing to do they never did anything to us so why why do it if you know that they would be in pain. im really MAD about this!!!

  • LanceThruster

    Sad and sick. Humans are largely horrible stewards of the planet (though it only takes a few to set back the advances of the rest).

  • williamcase3

    I was wondering if cyanide is quite harmful to living why it’s still available in the market? Just my two cents…

    credit repair

  • Even if one is OK with getting harvesting animals for meat and other products, this is a particularly wasteful method of getting them.

    So little of the animal is able to be used. One can’t use the meat (for obvious reasons), and the carcass poisons a great deal of the other wildlife. In this country, we almost hunted the Buffalo to extinction. But it was at least somewhat efficient, from what I understand. This is just stupid.

    It’s the ultimate human arrogance – that only a small portion of these animals have any value, so we’ll take that, and to hell with the rest. Above and beyond that, we’re messing with the ecosystem when we do it.

  • trinu

    There is a de jure prohibition on the trade under CITES, but the Chinese don’t enforce the prohibitions they signed.

  • Elephant and rhino ivory, shark fins, tiger skins and organs, and other ‘harvested’ items from rare and endangered species simply ought to be outlawed worldwide. As in a felony to acquire, buy, sell, or possess.

    The only place we should see these things is in museums, with large placards reading, “This is how stupid, selfish, and short-sighted we humans can be.”

  • Monoceros Forth

    I have wonder by the way where the cyanide came from. I can’t imagine it’s any easier to obtain in a town in Zimbabwe then it is to get here. (Though, to be fair, making potassium cyanide is actually rather simple.)

  • nolanmb

    Anyone who purchases products from these poached animals should be shunned (I think they deserve worse). They enable poachers to profit from their cruelty. Stopping the demand drops the profit and incentive for this horrible behavior/cruelty/degradation.

  • DRoseDARs

    I forget which African country does this, but the park rangers have been granted legal authority to engage with deadly force any poachers they come across. Kill them right on the spot, no mercy no leniency. The poachers are committing acts of treason against the countries in question, undermining an important natural resource.

  • Zorba

    Of course that is true, trinu. And this country definitely needs to be doing much more about this.

  • trinu

    That also includes the USA. We don’t consume a lot the illegal endangered species products but a lot of them are smuggled through our ports en route to China.

  • Zorba

    Kenya’s rhino population is fairly small compared to some other African countries, so it may be doable there.
    We need to find ways to help these African countries fight the poachers of elephants and rhinos. The problem is the poverty of most of these countries, the lack of resources for enforcement, and the piles of money to be made by the poachers.
    I think we also need to approach this from the consumer end. Pressure needs to be brought to bear on the countries where rhino horns and elephant tusks are bought. This would include China and other Asian countries for rhino horns, and, again, China, but other countries as well, for elephant tusks. The “consuming” countries also need to get their shit together and start punishing the consumers of such illegal items.

  • cole3244

    as a vegan i am embarrassed to be human, laws need to be made stronger so at least these people can be removed from the land and jailed for the good of the animals they live off of.
    what a waste perpetrated by human waste.

  • pappyvet

    Humans continually show that they are a suicidal species that can and will rationalize anything to satisfy “wanna.”

  • Oh wow, that’s very cool

  • Zorba

    This is just unbelievable. Human stupidity and greed. :-(
    John, I don’t know if you are aware of this, but in Kenya, the Kenya Wildlife Service is going to implant microchips in rhino horns. They intend to use these chips and DNA records, not just to track the population, but also to provide evidence when and if they can bring poachers to court. I certainly hope it helps bring some of these poachers to justice, and gives the potential poachers pause.

  • trinu

    With tourism and (for certain species) LIMITED and SUSTAINABLE
    hunting conservation makes economic sense in the long term, but
    unfortunately humans tend to think only in the short term. Also it’s
    important to note that poaching tends to bankrolled by large Chinese
    gangs, who wreak havoc over Africa much like drug cartels do in Latin
    America. Sometimes they do it with the help of corrupt governments, but just as much if not more often, they can do it by stealth or force. Oftentimes they’ll come with military grade weapons (probably purchased from the USA) and shoot and kill the rangers.

  • Monoceros Forth

    The sad and depressing thing is that in our current economic system elephants–and indeed any plant or animal capable of supplying some demanded material–are always going to be worth more dead than alive. An elephant running around freely is equivalent to a vein of ore untouched in the ground or an ebony tree standing pristine in the forest: its value is essentially zero, and value must be added to it by killing it and chopping off its tusks (or dug up or cut down.) Further “value” is added as the raw ivory works its way up the chain, the mark-ups becoming greater and greater the higher up the chain it goes. There is basically no incentive in a purely capitalist system to preserving anything that’s perceived as a “resource”.

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