Zimbabwe wildlife officials found the carcasses of 22 elephants poisoned by cyanide in the country’s biggest game reserve, Hwange National Park.

The discovery was made in the same area of the park that the bodies of at least 26 other poisoned elephants were found earlier this month, Alvin Ncube, chairman of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority, said by phone Monday.

"This is very sad," he said. "We have to bring in other security players because this is not good for conservation."

The elephant population is falling in some regions of Zimbabwe, while the animals face the threat of extinction in parts of Africa in the next 50 years as demand for ivory soars in Asia, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Zimbabwe’s ability to protect its wildlife has been under the spotlight since condemnation over the killing of a rare black-maned lion named Cecil, who lived at the Hwange sanctuary, by an American hunter earlier this year.

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