A high-powered delegation comprising three Cabinet ministers visited Hwange National Park and Tsholotsho on Sunday 15 September to asses the environmental situation following the recent poisoning of 41 elephants by poachers.
The horror of elephant poisoning and wildlife poaching was glaring and the ministers declared war on poaching to avert further damage.
The ministerial delegation comprised Environment, Water and Climate Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, Media, Information and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo and Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi.
The ministers flew to the scene of the recent elephant killings aboard a helicopter and had a look at the elephants' carcasses and horns, which have since been confiscated by the police.
Minister Kasukuwere said in an interview that he was not happy with the sentences being handed to poachers and he would encourage the "shoot to kill" policy. He said stiffer penalties would deter would-be poachers.
Minister Kasukuwere said he would work on a wildlife conservation model that would result in communities benefiting from the conservation of wildlife, thereby creating employment.
Minister Walter Mzembi said there was need for stakeholders to collaborate and respond to such disasters and called for the immediate isolation of affected areas and neutralization of cyanide, that reportedly requires a generation to biodegrade.
The poachers used cyanide to poison the elephants. Wildlife poaching syndicates in Zimbabwe have become sophisticated and need appropriate responses to effectively deal with them.
If cyanide is inhaled, it causes a coma with seizures, apnea and cardiac arrest, with death following in a matter of minutes. At lower doses, loss of consciousness may be preceded by general weakness, giddiness, headaches, vertigo, confusion and perceived difficulty in breathing.