Zimbabwe Remains Committed To Elephant Export Plans

Despite fervent opposition from numerous animal rights organizations, Zimbabwe remains steadfast in its decision to export between sixty and one-hundred elephant calves to captive facilities in China, The UAE and Thailand.

“We are going ahead with selling the elephants, we have done our studies and we are going to do every transaction under the [global wildlife trade treaty] CITES parameters,” Prince Mupazviriho, the permanent secretary in the environment, water and climate ministry, told state broadcaster ZBC.

Zimbabwe’s state national parks authority says that it has too many elephants and that much-needed funds from the sale of the elephants will be channeled back into the struggling Zimbabwean economy, including wildlife and national parks management. Each elephant calf will fetch around $60,000 USD from international buyers. But with Mugabe set to welcome almost $100,000 dollars of bush meat to his table, for a birthday bonanza; including two young elephants; his intention to invest this money responsibly and for the benefit of wildlife is questionable. This sad situation is not without precedent. Of the four elephant calves taken from their wild homes in Zimbabwe in 2012 and sold to zoos in China, three have already died and the one that is alive lives in solitary confinement in a concrete cell with no stimuli. Though physically alive, the poor infant is intellectually and emotionally dead.

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A zoo is no place for an elephant. Of the four Zimbabwean elephants captured and exported to zoos in 2012, just one is still alive and he lives in concrete solitude at Taiyuan Zoo, in cold north-central China. Photo: China Zoo Watch.

“For elephants, being held captive in a zoo or in circuses, is a fate worse than death”. Joyce Poole, CEO, Elephant Voices.

The decision to round up elephant calves from the wild with the intention of selling them on to foreign zoos comes just 12 months after the US placed a moratorium on trophy hunted elephants from Zimbabwe, because of mounting concern surrounding the country’s elephant management programme.

“When that revenue was cut off I suspect Zimbabwe said, if we can’t make money that way, we’re going to make money by capturing these calves and exporting them to zoos around the world that will pay us top dollar”. Says DJ Schubert, Wildlife Biologist at the Animal Welfare Institute in an interview with DEGTH?.

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Zimbabwe’s elephant population has remained robust in comparison to other African countries but increasingly, human action is conspiring against it. Photo: Johan Elzenga—Stone/Getty Images

Estimated to number around 80,000, Zimbabwe’s elephant population is relatively strong in comparison to other African countries. Tanzania’s elephant population, for example, has plummeted by a shocking 70% in the last 10 years. But, concerns around long term survival of elephants in Zimbabwe are increasing as more and more political and military elites with connections to Mugabe’s inner circle are forcibly seizing protected areas. The land grabs put more and more of Zimbabwe at risk of becoming fronts for poaching.

Add to this concern, the cruel abduction of baby elephants from their mothers in Hwange National Park and the poisoning of 300 elephants with cyanide in the same area last year; a tragedy that appears to be rearing its ugly head again; and the future for elephants in Zimbabwe looks more and more dire by the minute.

But you can DO something. DO your bit to save an elephant and donate to the DO Elephants Go To Heaven? kickstarter today! We will be working with safari guides and elephant whisperers to find out what elephants are experiencing in the wild and in captivity. We will tell the stories of elephants orphaned by poaching and culling AND follow the journeys of the kidnapped baby elephants to zoos in China & Thailand. Together we can make a difference for elephants and educate people about why it is morally wrong to kill or cage these intelligent, emotional beings. Help us make this important film and receive awesome elephant-approved gifts!

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Watch a true tale of elephant compassion in our animated short. If humans could show elephants the same compassion as elephants show other species, we could save these magnificent creatures from extinction.

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Happy Chinese New Year – Let’s Celebrate the Chinese Activists Speaking out for Elephants

The Chinese year 4713 begins on Feb. 19, 2015.

We are entering the Year of the Sheep, the sheep is known as the most creative sign in the Chinese zodiac so we hope 2015 is a year of good fortune for creativity here at Dream Out Loud Films too!

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Chinese revellers in NYC welcome in new year with brightly coloured sheep. Credit Philippe Lopez/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

On this day of celebration in China, the DO Elephants Go To Heaven? team are shining the light on Chinese activists campaigning to stop the ivory trade. A burgeoning Chinese middle class is fuelling a seemingly insatiable demand for ivory and pushing levels of poaching and smuggling to new heights. As a result African elephant populations are being decimated with some areas having lost as much as 70% of their population in the last 10 years. If you are in Washington DC you can join in Elephant DC’s peaceful vigil at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China to show your commitment to saving elephants this year. Below are 5 activists working in close association with Chinese public, media and lawmakers to curb the demand and stop elephant poaching.


Li BingBing is not only one of the most celebrated young actresses in Chinese cinema, she is also a UN Environment Programme Goodwill Ambassador. She is best known for her starring roles in Resident Evil: Retribution and Transformers: Age of Extinction but Li still finds time to speak up about a different kind of extinction. You can watch a mini-documentary made in association with Save The Elephants in which she travels to Kenya to see the effects of poaching first-hand, and a public service announcement in which Li, on being pierced by a poacher’s bullet, is transformed into a fatally wounded African elephant (below).


Elizabeth Quat is a legislator from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong and a leading proponent of the ban on all ivory sales in China. This year Quat formally announced her intention to seek a Hong Kong government ban on its domestic ivory trade.

“Hong Kong would be the first consumer nation to ban ivory sales,” Legislative Councillor Quat said. “We’d be taking a strong stand with our brothers and sisters in Africa and setting an example for the rest of the world.” 

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Photo: Dr Quat visits David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya on fact finding mission. (c) www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org


At just 16 years old Cecilia Ho is setting the bar for youth activists everywhere. In October 2012 she was profoundly affected by ‘Ivory Worship’, an article about blood ivory in National Geographic. She decided to write a letter to her local Hong Kong newspaper, The South China Morning Post and since that moment has not looked back in her efforts to spread awareness about the plight of elephants. She started, Schools United For Elephants, a grassroots movement across schools in Hong Kong, and has more than 40 schools and 60 organizations supporting her. Watch Last Hope For Elephants presented by Cecilia on YouTube below.

“Every tusk costs a life at least! Is it worthwhile?  Ivory is not a necessity for people, but elephants are very crucial animals to the whole world, especially the ecosystem. No poaching! No ivory trade!” Cecilia Ho, in an interview for Elephant Voices, National Geographic.


The carving of ivory in China is such a deep rooted tradition that it’s going to need a GIANT uprising to stop it. Yao Ming is one such giant! At 6’7″ and as China’s biggest basketball star, Ming really stands out from the crowd. He became a WildAid ambassador in 2006 and has appeared in numerous ads, billboards, and TV Public Service Announcements calling for an end to the illegal wildlife trade. He not only speaks out for elephants but has championed the conservation of sharks, and rhinos too. His messages have reached hundreds of millions of people in China and around the world and he is the star of 2013 documentary, The End of the Wild, which tells the story of his transformation into a wildlife defender and demonstrates his resolve to carry the conservation message back to his country. He presents documentary series Saving Africa’s Giants available to watch on Animal Planet and blogs about his story here.

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Yao Ming & orphaned baby elephant in Kenya. http://yaomingblog.com


At a gala in aid of International Fund for Animal Welfare’s “Give Peace to Elephants, Say No to Ivory” campaign, Mr Baucus announced his commitment to stopping elephant poaching and the highest legislative level stating, “I am going to push for fighting wildlife crime to the highest level of government dialogues between President Obama and President Xi Jinping. It is the right thing to do.” The Ambassador’s wife echoed his concerns saying, “Elephants are very close to my heart. We need to educate the 70% of the people who don’t know ivory comes from dead elephants and change their behavior.” The pair will be working in association with IFAW and plan to visit IFAW’s project to protect Asian elephant habitats in Yunnan.

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US Ambassador to China announces hardline on wildlife trade at IFAW gala in presence on Chinese dignitaries. (c) www.ifaw.org

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Be a DO Elephants Go To Heaven? Kickdriver & get cool rewards for sharing the project with friends!

The DO Elephants Go To Heaven? Kickstarter is about to go into its third week and we’ve found a new way to involve our incredible community of supporters with additional rewards for sharing! 

DO you love the project and think everyone should know about it?

Have you donated and now wish you could be more involved?

DO you want to support us but don’t have the money to donate right now?



For every person you refer to our Kickstarter page by sharing on social media and via email, you earn a point. Points accumulate and you redeem these points for additional rewards! These prizes include current Kickstarter rewards AND a few new perks we are introducing just for you, our supporters.

These new prizes are products created by a project led by Dream Out Loud Films in South Africa, which provides employment and sustainable income to women and orphans whose lives are affected by HIV/AIDS.

 Click to join –> I’m in!

I will KickDrive this film to success!

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Gorgeous handmade, beaded elephant belt – share the project with 500 friends and as a thank you, we’ll send you one for free!

Will you join and help us reach potential supporters?  Join the KickDriver!


If you think this could be for you but want to know more, we’d love to hear from you! Connect with us on Twitter & Facebook or drop us an email.

Thank you for sharing! We couldn’t do this without you!

Louise, Kari, Harriet and Kirsten

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Top Ten Teeny Trunks…

At Dream Out Loud Films baby elephants hold a very special place in our hearts. In DO Elephants Go To Heaven?, currently in production, we will work with safari guides and elephant whisperers to tell the stories of orphaned baby elephants from a unique and compelling perspective.

Here are 10 tiny trunks to help fight those February blues – in no particular order because we just couldn’t choose!

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(c) The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Baby elephant botswana

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(c) The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

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And now you see why we couldn’t choose! If you’ve got a favourite, tell us on Facebook.

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Protect Elephants And Support Rural Economies in Africa With Bitcoin

DO Elephants Go To Heaven? will tell two interwoven stories: orphaned baby elephants struggling to survive against all odds and the long journey to economic empowerment for women in rural Africa. The film will show the interdependence between the two and how they can support each other for their very survival.


Director Louise Hogarth was first inspired to make a film focused on elephants when working on her film, Angels in the Dust, in South Africa. Angels in the Dust is the true story of Marion Cloete and the orphans she cares for. The stories of the children are interwoven with the dramatic parallel saga of the orphaned elephants of Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa.


Angels in the Dust had a lasting impact on the Botshabelo orphanage and inspired a series of projects which continue to support HIV/AIDS orphans. Hogarth launched the DO Ubuntu Orphan Bracelet Campaign (OBC) which helps orphans by equipping their primary caretakers with the means to sustain themselves and improve their health. This includes training women to make bracelets to sell for an income.

Hogarth intends to do the same in tandem with Do Elephants Go To Heaven?, launching a new social venture to support rural families in Africa. The film will document the creation of a new grass elephant “hair” bracelet and additional products derived from elephant poo, such as notebooks and note cards. These products will support elephant orphanages and local crafters in Africa.

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The crafters employed through Dream Out Loud Films’ projects are some of the poorest in Africa and it is close to impossible to obtain bank accounts for them. The next generation of crafters will be paid with Bitcoin. This process will be documented step by step in the film; woman creating bracelets and recycled elephant poo products, receiving their wages via a Bitcoin wallet, shopping at local stores and entering the new, more secure digital age in rural Africa.

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DO Elephants Go To Heaven? is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. A successful raise of $50,000 (or even better, reaching our $100,000 stretch goal) will allow Dream Out Loud Films to continue production on this important film. Read the full story here. 

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