In this prologue, the poaching of elephants in Zimbabwe is discussed. In September 2013, “poachers” had massacred more than ninety elephants in one stroke in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe's largest game reserve. The massacre occurred at a saltpan inside the game reserve, adjacent to villages in the Pelandaba area of rural Tsholotsho. What shocked the government was not only the numbers killed at once, or that these were ordinary people in villages along the national park's boundaries doing it, but also the “sophisticated” technology they were using. For more than a century, the government had come to associate “poaching” with the traditional wire snares and firearms. There had also been sporadic cases in which villagers laced oranges and watermelons with agricultural pesticides to kill rhinos, and sometimes elephants, but these methods targeted individual animals, not entire herds. This time the poachers use cyanide, which destroys indiscriminately and en masse. The ivory is smuggled out of the country and sold in Asia and the Middle East for around US$17,000 per tusk.
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