|A park ranger walks by an elephant carcass in Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park|
Africa is drenched in bloodshed stemming from rampant poaching that has diminished and continues to diminish its elephant population at an alarming rate. All over the continent, elephants fall prey to the greedy and murderous hands of poachers for the purpose of profit. This wave of bloodthirsty carnage has not only been helping to fund the black market, but also finance Africa's militant groups in their efforts to carry out civil wars across the continent. Among these ruthless and barbaric organizations include Al-Shabaab, Janjaweed, and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) who for many years have terrorized Africa and its people. Al-Shabaab has gained international notoriety as an ally of Al-Qaeda, and has recently been in the spotlight for allegedly conducting a horrendous attack at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi. These facts indicate that the threat of poaching not only intends on thriving to profit from Africa's wildlife, but also instill fear and terror in the hearts of innocent people everywhere in the continent and negatively impact the tourism industry which is one of the major contributors to Africa's economy.
|A lion in Hwange National Parks. Lions and other predators, particularly hyenas, perished as a result of cyanide poisoning.|
Recently, this ongoing bloodbath has claimed lives of 91 elephants in Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park. Officials indicated that poachers had spread cyanide used in gold mining over natural, mineral-rich salt licks which draw elephants and other animals for access to essential mineral nutrients. They further added that the poisoning also claimed lives of lions, hyenas, and vultures after feeding on the contaminated carcasses and drinking nearby. Reports indicate that the elephants had died last month, and that nine suspected poachers have arrested this month. Out of the nine suspects, three were sentenced to sixteen years in prison. According to Saviour Kasukuwere, the newly appointed environment minister following President Robert Mugabe's victory in the 2013 Zimbabwean presidential election, the nation will strengthen its efforts to campaign among other nations around the world to repress the illegal ivory trade. In addition, the State Environmental Management Authority has made a plan to burn elephant carcasses and call for detoxification of areas affected by cyanide, starting with delving out the salt licks and removing top layers of soil tainted by cyanide particles. Officials believe that at least two deeply dug wells providing the waterholes may also be polluted and will possibly have to be shut. New wells will likely be dug away from the contaminated ones.
|Elephants drink at a waterhole in Hwange National Park|
This article indicates that elephant poaching continues to take its toll on Africa's wildlife by spreading into other countries of the continent, which were not considered as focal points of poaching in recent times. Earlier, it was believed that Central Africa and parts of East Africa, most notably Kenya, were considered to be major hubs of elephant poaching. Now, it has been found that Zimbabwe has become affected by this continuous bloodshed. Although the response to tackle poaching came swift, Zimbabwe's environment and wildlife authorities are said to be underfunded, understaffed, and poorly outfitted due to a troubled economy. This means that authorities cannot afford to care for helicopters or fixed-wing aircraft spotter patrols in an effort to battle poaching. Environment minister Kasukuwere stated that the Hwange National Park only has about 150 rangers and few fully functional off-road vehicles for an area that impeccably should have a staff of 700. He further added that officials have started working with local village communities on the peripheries of Hwange National Park to notify any presence of cyanide, and that eight pounds of (four kilograms) of the poison have been recovered so far. However, I feel that Zimbabwe is in a great need of help to protect its wildlife. I believe that, in order to help Zimbabwe protect its wildlife, it is highly essential to help its economy so that the authorities would not be underfunded and understaffed and provide them with access to helicopters and similar resources to bolster up their efforts to prevent poaching from further taking its toll of the nation's wildlife.
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