Govt’s Hwange neglect forces Jumbo sale

via Govt’s Hwange neglect forces Jumbo sale 22/12/2014

ZIMBABWE is considering the sale of as many as 62 live elephants to China, France and the United Arab Emirates because Hwange National Park, the country’s biggest game reserve, isn’t receiving adequate state funding.

Elephants can be sold for between US$40,000 (S$52,955) and US$60,000 (S$79,432) each, depending on age, and the revenue could help meet the US$2.3 million annual running costs of the park in the northwest of the country, Director for Conservation at the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authorities, Geoffreys Matipano, said in an interview at Hwange.

“We are pursuing it aggressively as part of conservation efforts because we have plenty of elephants here,” Matipano said. “We don’t receive state funding and we rely on selling animals for our day-to-day operations, we are nowhere near what we want.”

The size of Zimbabwe’s economy has halved since 2000, according to the government, after the seizure of commercial farms for redistribution to subsistence farmers slashed exports and triggered a near-decade long recession.

Funding for services such as national parks has dried up along with the money needed for the maintenance of infrastructure such as roads and water supplies.

While African elephants are considered endangered, with about 470,000 left in the wild in 37 countries, about 300,000 of them live in the southern African nations of Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa, according to the African Wildlife Foundation.

Population control options have been limited by public opposition to culling, a method last used in Zimbabwe in 1998, with contraception and translocation considered expensive.

Between 1960 and 1998, 46,000 elephants were culled in Hwange, Lovelater Sebele, the park’s resident ecologist, said.

At 14,651sqkm, Hwange has 43,000 elephants against a carrying capacity of 15,000, Matipano said. Water is supplied for the animals through 80 bore hole pumps that use solar power or diesel to pump the groundwater to the surface at an annual cost of US$500,000. Elephants can drink 200 litres of water each a day.

“Obviously, these huge numbers puts pressure on us on how to manage them and also how to conserve the environment,” Matipano said. “It’s a costly exercise to have these animals at one single place, because we spend a lot of money to provide the water for the animals.”

Enclosed elephants

Prior to shipment the elephants would be rounded up and kept in an enclosure for three weeks before being shipped by cargo plane to their destination.

“The biggest issue is how they will be treated once they reach their destination,” said Andrew Taylor, a spokesman for the Johannesburg-based Endangered Wildlife Trust. “How will they be housed, what will they be used for, will they be kept in tiny enclosures?”

Buyers from the UAE are seeking 15 elephants, China 27 and France 15 to 20, Matipano said. Some could be sent to private zoos after their ability to keep the animals is assessed by the Zimbabwean wildlife authorities.

“Transporting elephants long distances is feasible but it requires very experienced vets to keep them sedated for long periods,” Taylor said. “There are health risks associated with sedation for an extended period of time.”

South African buyers have applied to acquire buffaloes and sable antelopes, Matipano said.

Funds raised will also be used to finance anti-poaching activities with the park currently having one ranger per 100sqkm rather than the recommended 20sqkm, Trumber Jura, Hwange National Park manager, said.

Last year 293 elephants were lost to poachers using cyanide poisoning, and this year 139 have been killed, Matipano said. In clashes with rangers 29 local poachers were shot dead last year while 12 poachers, all Zambians, were killed this year, Jura said.


  • comment-avatar
    Gamuchirai 6 years ago

    If you have excess animals so you need these so called poachers? Talk to the world in a better way and maybe you can sell your tusks

  • comment-avatar
    CommonSense 6 years ago

    Why not use some of the money allocated to ‘Chiefs Vehicles ‘

  • comment-avatar
    harper 6 years ago

    There are no Sable remaining in the Matopos National Park, the rangers have shot them all for rations.

  • comment-avatar

    This is one of the biggest lies I have heard from that foul regime! This money will never go to the parks! The Zimbabwe government have totally neglected Hwankie for decades except for those fat cats that were certainly involved with the poisoning of all those elephant last year. Sending baby elephants to China is a crime of monumental proportions. They have already traumatized herds by taking these, their children, from them let alone the trauma these young elephant are going through. Every elephant in Hwankie has more right to be on the planet than the creatures that are doing this. They better live long because they will burn in hell for this. Sending these, the most intelligent of animals, to a life of misery and hopelessness in a country they should never be in to appease their CHINESE masters. The luckiest of these elephants will be the ones that die on the way there.

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    Sending elephants to France is one thing, but to the UAE and China is quite another. These countries have zero respect for human rights, let alone animals. The Chinese boil dogs alive every day and hold the belief that the more pain an animal dies in, the better it will taste. These people are despicable and any government that condones the selling of live animals (or dead for that matter) to China is complicit in a monstrous crime. China poaches, tortures, kills and rapes the little remaining wildlife we have on this planet. These people are utterly unscrupulous and devoid of any moral values whatsoever. The sooner China gets out if Africa, the sooner this poaching frenzy will subside.