TWO CATTLE have reportedly died in Tsholotsho after they drank from a watering hole inside Hwange National Park amid fears the water was poisoned with cyanide.
There are reports that at least 300 elephants have succumbed to cyanide poisoning blamed on poachers at the giant reserve.
However, the Zimbabwe National Parks Management Authority (Zimparks) claims only 106 elephants have died.
The reports of cattle dying due to cyanide poisoning would bring a new twist to the scandal that has seen Zimparks rangers reportedly descending on Tsholotsho villagers seeking information on the source of cyanide and people behind the poaching at the reserve.
Patrick Ndlovu, a headman in the Tsholotsho area of Phelandaba, said two beasts had died of suspected cyanide poisoning.
“We fear that we are going to lose more cattle due to the cyanide used to poison elephants, the rangers need to conduct a research and find out how many ponds have been poisoned,” he said.
Ndlovu said the matter was reported to Zimparks but there has been no response.
“The matter was reported to them but they have not reacted to our call,” he said.
“We are afraid that a disaster is brewing because we have started receiving rains and due to that contaminated water might flow into dams where people drink resulting in the loss of life.”
Ndlovu said villagers would engage the Environmental Management Agency to intervene and assess the extent of poisoning of water ponds in their area.
Phelandaba is situated about 8km from the Hwange National Park.
Nine people have so far been arrested in connection with the poisoning of watering holes in the game park to kill the elephants for their tusks.
Due to the poisoning of some water pools to trap elephants, there have been fears of fourth generation effect due to the potency of cyanide as a poison.
Animals that feed on the dead elephants will die and people that feed on the dead animals will also die.
Experts say the cyanide would affect the food chain and hundreds of animals may end up dead.
Cyanide poisoning occurs when a living animal or human being is exposed to a compound that produces cyanide ions (CN-) when dissolved in water.
Common poisonous cyanide compounds include hydrogen cyanide gas and the crystalline solids potassium cyanide and sodium cyanide.
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 notable difficulty in breathing.