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Cyanide, Elephants and Waterholes – Neutralizing the Threat

There have been reports over the past several weeks that 66 elephants have been poisoned by cyanide in waterholes in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. This also means that every other animal that has taken a drink at these waterholes has also died, as well as the vultures that devoured the poisoned carcasses.

cyanideCyanide is used around the world by the mining industry so it is readily available, in substantial quantities, in Southern Africa. Hydrogen cyanide was used in the Nazi extermination camps in World War II where it was known as Zyklon B. Cyanide is also found in the roots of the cassava plant which can cause poisoning without the proper preparation.  When cyanide comes in contact with water, hydrogen cyanide is created.

There are no precise dosage numbers for the amount of cyanide needed to kill an elephant. An article posted in Toledo Weekly Blade on December 1, 1910 reported that it took “500 grains” of cyanide to put down, Gypsy Queen, a circus elephant who had killed her trainer.

Clearly, based on the dosages needed to kill a human, we are looking at just hundreds of parts per million/kilogram, a minute amount, to take down an elephant.

 

How then can a waterhole poisoned by cyanide be decontaminated ?

 

There are many chemicals, such as peroxides, hypochlorites or sulfur dioxide, that can neutralize cyanide. However, the addition of more chemicals to a waterhole may have deleterious and unintended consequences as well as being costly and difficult to administer.

The Chemistry Department at the University of Maryland’s College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences has an idea which is faster, better and cheaper than a chemically based decontamination solution.

 

Simply stated, put a pump in the waterhole and spray the pond water into the air on a sunny day.

 

The ultraviolet radiation (UV) in sunlight will help to accelerate the volitization of the hydrogen cyanide by breaking down strong iron cyanide compounds. This will serve to remove cyanide ions from the water.

All that is needed is a water pump, a power source –solar panels or a diesel engine, and a spray fountainhead.  For a few hundreds of dollars, we can take immediate steps to start cleaning up these watery death traps.

At the same time, African governments and industries that use cyanide must take steps to control the access and distribution of this deadly poison. There is absolutely no reason that cyanide should be a poison of choice in Zimbabwe or in any other nation on the Continent.

 

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 10.38.50 AMDr. Thomas Snitch is Chairman of the Board of Visitors at the University of Maryland’s College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences and is a Visiting Professor at the Institute for Advanced Computer Studies. His research is focused on using science and math to combat conservation crimes.

 

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Original article by Dr. Thomas Snitch

Wildlife Crimes Investigation Unit leads to Zambian ivory trafficker arrest

May 23 2017

Ivory, from no less than five elephants, was unsuccessfully smuggled across the Zambia Malawi border and picked up by IFAW’s Wildlife Crimes Investigations Unit – thanks to their undercover informant network.Zambia-Malawi Border.

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Rescued elephant calf reunited with mother

May 22 2017

An elephant calf struggles to get out of a water tank near a village near the outer edge of Pakke Tiger Reserve in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh. read more

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Big Game Hunter Killed by Elephant in Zimbabwe

Theunis Botha, 51, of South Africa, led hunting trips for wealthy tourists. An elephant fell on him after it was shot by another hunter.

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留住大象,哪怕为了这些“功利”的理由

大象的DNA里可能藏着抗击癌症、延年益寿的秘密,哪怕为了人类自身,我们也该好好对待大象。(翻译:子明/chinadialogue)

现在或许正是大象种群最黑暗的时代。中国正在取缔国内象牙贸易,欧盟也将着手对付象牙走私,但偷猎者们还在继续他们的血腥交易。与此同时,森林正遭到破坏,象群的迁徙路线被截断,人类和大象之间围绕土地、食物和水源的竞争愈演愈烈

所以,现在必须让大家明白:保留大象的生存空间对人类自身益处多多。并且人类根本不需要特别做什么,大象自会找到自己的领地。

Related: 《卫报》为何要用中文报道大象的生存危机?

Related: 人口70亿的世界,如何保护野生动植物?

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Namibia: Hundreds Arrested for Poaching

[New Era] Windhoek -The Ministry of Environment and Tourism has revealed that they arrested more than 222 suspects for poaching and illegal possession of either rhino horns or elephant tusks in 2016.

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Why would Theresa May ditch a pledge to ban ivory trading?

The Tories’ manifesto has dropped a promise to outlaw the trade. Protecting wildlife should be a priority, not an option

Strange news: Theresa May has decided to drop a Tory pledge to push for a total ban on ivory trading (only the sale of ivory items produced after 1947 is prohibited). Why would she do that? Doesn’t she need votes? I thought nearly everyone loved elephants – who votes for helping to wipe them out? Apparently, wealthy antiques dealers. Lady (Victoria) Borwick, the Tory candidate for Kensington and the president of the British Antique Dealers’ Association, is an acquaintance of the PM; perhaps she was whom May had in mind.

This makes me feel horribly sick. Although Borwick and her colleagues are primarily concerned with pieces from the pre-1947 era, the fact these items remain in circulation arguably has a knock-on effect on how hunting is perceived. An elephant is killed every 15 minutes for its ivory, with more being shot for fun by big-game hunters – what is to stop a dishonest dealer passing off new spoils as old?

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Zimbabwe: Ivory Case Hits Snag At Constitutional Court

[The Herald] Two Harare women accused of unlawful possession of 25,9 kilogrammes of raw ivory valued at $6 475 have had their case seeking to compel the prosecution to reveal the informant struck off the Constitutional Court’s roll.

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Zimbabwe: Exported Baby Elephants Distraught

[Zimbabwe Standard] Last year, more than 30 baby elephants were taken out of their natural habitats and with the blessings from the government and the Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Authority (ZimParks), were flown to China. They were then dispatched to various zoos throughout the Asian country and their lives were never the same again.

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South Africa: SA Hunter ‘Trampled to Death By Elephants in Zimbabwe’ – Report

[News24Wire] Zimbabwe’s national wildlife authority has confirmed the death of a South African hunter killed by elephants near Hwange in the west of the country this weekend, it was reported on Sunday.

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South Africa: Rhino Owners Cry Foul After Poaching Gang Suspects Get Bail

[News24Wire] South Africa’s rhino security community has expressed outrage after a Grahamstown High Court judge granted bail to three of the country’s most notorious rhino poaching suspects, the Ndlovu Gang, effectively releasing them from police custody. This despite strong arguments from the State that the trio posed an immediate flight risk and a continued threat to rhino.A month after hearing the group’s second bid for bail, in April, Judge JE Smith this week granted R15 000 bail each to Zimbabwean nationals Forget

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Live Q&A: What impact is human development having on the world’s elephant populations?

The conflict between humans and elephants for space and resources is driving the rapid decline of elephant populations. Join us on Wednesday 24 May from 1-2.30pm BST to discuss how elephants and humans can live together

This week an elderly man was killed by a wild elephant in central India as he picked tendu leaves in the Surajpur forest. A few days earlier, a father and his son were injured after two elephants wandered into their house in Tamil Nadu. As human populations grow and communities live in closer proximity to elephants, one of the world’s most unique and beautiful animals can become the most dangerous.

But human development is also contributing to the severe decline in elephant populations. Across Asia and Africa, elephants’ natural habitats are being destroyed by rapid urbanisation and industrial and agricultural expansion.

Related: Can elephants and humans live together?

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Zimbabwe: Safari Players Await U.S. Decision On Ivory Ban

[Zimbabwe Independent] THE Safari Operators’ Association of Zimbabwe (Soaz) is awaiting a decision by the United States over an ivory ban which has crippled its operations and severely reduced its revenue base, businessdigest has learnt.

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