HARARE, Zimbabwe — Authorities in Zimbabwe reported Tuesday that more than 80 elephants have died from cyanide poisoning in the country’s biggest national park over the past four weeks.
“The situation is getting bad, as the poison might have been taken by many other animals — not only elephants,” said Environment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, after touring Hwange National Park.
The park is Africa’s third-largest wildlife sanctuary.
Last month the authorities reported they had arrested six poachers who had poisoned elephants with cyanide in the national park, which is roughly the size of Switzerland and is situated about 50 miles southwest of Harare.
Kasukuwere has pledged stricter jail sentences for poachers.
The government says Zimbabwe has an elephant population of more than 100,000.
But Johnny Rodrigues, the chairman of the charity Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, says the figure is closer to 35,000.