MORE than 50 birds died at Hwange National Park at the weekend after allegedly feeding on suspected poisoned wheat from Zambia.
By Nokuthaba Dlamini
Bhejane Trust founder Trevor Lane said the poisoning, which is yet to be properly diagnosed has been witnessed at various watering holes in the park surrounding the Zambezi River.
Of the birds that died, ducks were said to be the most affected, with some of them suffering from paralysis.
“While checking on the Chamabonda yesterday evening, I came across a very tragic situation – there were 12 dead knob-billed ducks and a paralysed one at No 1 water point,” Lane said.
“I collected them and took them to Chris Foggin at the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust, who confirmed he suspected they had been poisoned because their carcases were full of grain seeds, but he managed to save the paralysed duck.”
Lane said after he went to check on other water points at dawn, he found a further 23 knob-billed ducks and 21 red-billed teal floating at Timots Pan, with one knobbie suffering from paralysis.
“We took them back to the vet and he again managed to save the paralysed duck – two have since been released back into the wildlife.”
He said the matter was reported to the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and the police, who said that preliminary investigations had ruled out that the birds had been poisoned by grain from Zambia.
There were also reports that Egyptian Geese are dying on the islands surrounding the Zambezi River after eating poisoned grain.
“The crocodiles have been having a feast. It now appears the poisoning of the wild fowl is coming from Zambia, as the birds have wheat seeds in their carcases. It is not known whether the poisoning is from the farmers growing wheat on the banks of the Zambezi, or deliberate poaching after Zambians in Mekoros were seen picking up some dead and paralysed geese,” Lane said.
He said there was need for thorough investigations and immediate intervention on the issue before more birds die from poisoning.