Zimbabwe gov’t allegedly sold baby elephants to China


Zimbabwean authorities have reportedly sold some 30 baby elephants to China amid drought and fears on the elephants’ fate, according to media reports.

The Zimbabwean baby elephants are believed to be taken to zoos in China where they are reportedly kept in isolation. However, there has been no official confirmation on those widely reported allegations.

“Our government is doing all it can to please its appetite for spending even if it means it has to export all the baby elephants in the country just for the love of foreign currency it always says it desperately needs; no one among our authorities really cares about animals like baby elephants,” a Zimbabwean wildlife activist, Zisunku Ndlovu, told Anadolu Agency on Thursday.

The alleged move came amid drought and deteriorated economy of the Southern African nation.

Earlier this week, some 55 elephants have been announced dead over the past two months at the national park due to starvation. Tinashe Farawo, the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) public relations manager, said at the time that the elephants’ death was “due to drought induced by climate change.”

Anadolu Agency could not reach Farawo for comment on the 30 baby elephants allegedly flown out, while one of the Hwange National Park’s officials anonymously refrained to comment on the baby elephants’ alleged deal.

The price of the 30 baby elephants is not announced, however, the last time baby elephants were sold in 2015, they have cost $60,000 for each.

“By nature the act is also a direct undermining of the rights of the rural people as the wildlife signifies their natural pride and wealth as they are the primary custodians of most conservancies and these illegal dealings are often carried out by a selected small group of powerful and ‘advantaged’ elite,’” Ndlovu added.

In August, a ban on live elephant exports from Zimbabwe was internationally agreed, however, the ban will take effect from Nov. 26.

Apart from the recent alleged deal, some 108 baby elephants have been exported to Chinese zoos, according to a report by Animal People Forum issued on Feb. 25.

“Many zoos throughout China keep their animals in isolation and neglect with very poor veterinary care. Ever since these cruel exports started, they have sparked global condemnation because of the horrific conditions in which the young elephants are kept,” the Animal People Forum’s report said.

“Back in 2017, Humane Society International obtained video footage of 14 young elephants awaiting export to Chinese zoos immediately after their capture in Hwange National Park. The footage showed the calves being beaten and kicked as they were sedated and transported to the park’s holding pens. All of this abuse happened at the hands of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority. A year earlier, in 2016, 30 young elephants were exported from Zimbabwe to Chinese zoos, and several of them died during transit or shortly after arrival,” the report added.

*Jeffrey Moyo contributed to this story from Zimbabwe
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