Scores of fish have died in a case of suspected natural sulphide poisoning along the course of the Deka River, a major tributary of the Zambezi that runs through the Hwange District in north-western Zimbabwe.
According to local media reports, mass fish deaths have been confirmed in 3 locations along the river. Locals have long suspected that cattle and goat deaths in the areas were linked to drinking poisoned water.
Matabeleland North Provincial Manager at the Zimbabwean Environmental Management Agency (EMA) Chipo Zuze-Mpofu said preliminary investigations ruled out initial allegations that the fish deaths were due to the spill-over of mining chemicals into the aquatic ecosystem.
“Our officers went to the scene to investigate after receiving initial reports which suggested that the water poison emanated from mining activities in the area. They discovered that the mines that people are talking about are not operating. This particular case of pollution points to the geology of the area because traces of sulphur were found in water samples from the affected areas,” Zuze-Mpofu explained.
Water in the affected sections of the river have reportedly turned reddish, and the agency said this could be due to factors that include oxygen deprivation, which eventually cause fish to die. Locals reported that the last mass fish deaths along the Deka River occurred in the 1950s.