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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