MPs urge govt to sell Hwange elephants

MPs urge govt to sell Hwange elephants

via MPs urge govt to sell Hwange elephants – Southern Eye

HARARE – Members of Parliament have urged the government to find a way of exporting a large number of elephants to avoid having to cull the animals, which they say are threatening communities neighbouring the country’s biggest game park.

Hwange National Park, which, at 14 651 square km, has about 45 000 elephants and that population is growing by 5% a year.

That equates to three times the number the park in north-western Zimbabwe can sustainably hold, lawmakers said in a parliamentary report obtained by Bloomberg.

Elephants, which can eat 136kg of food each a day, are destroying vegetation in the park and damaging the crops and livelihoods of neighbouring communities, they said.

If markets cannot be found for the animals, with exports to China already planned, the government will have to resort to cull or contraception, the parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environment, Water and Tourism said in the report.

“A quick win and low-hanging fruit could be the sale and exportation of live elephants,” the committee said.

“The committee urgently urges the government to identify vibrant markets that will be able to absorb large elephant sales.”

The sale of elephants, which according to park officials could fetch between $40 000 and $60 000 each, has been criticised by animal rights organisations concerned at the stress the animals will endure when caught and separated from family units as well as their well-being in new homes.

Still, Hwange and other parks in Zimbabwe are short of funds needed for ranger salaries and general upkeep due to an economic crisis that has cut the size of the economy by half, according to a government estimate, since 2000.

“The country will realise significant revenue from elephant exports, and such revenue can be used to enhance conservation and sustainable wildlife management programs,” the committee said.

Elephant exports are permissible under rules adopted by the United Nations’ Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, the lawmakers said.

Alternatively, the animals may have to be killed, lawmakers said. Between 1960 and 1998, 46 000 elephants were culled in Hwange. The practice has been abandoned in Zimbabwe and other countries after protests by animal-rights activists.

“This approach requires a definite institutional mind-set that its pro-culling,” the committee said. “In Hwange National Park, the number of elephants is so large that one of the only realistic ways of bringing the population under control is culling.”

While contraception by darting could be considered, translocation of elephants within the country would be too expensive, lawmakers said.

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 countries of Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa, according to the African Wildlife Foundation.

The report’s findings follow a tour by lawmakers to the park on Janaury 13 to 16. Lawmakers were drawn from the ruling Zimbabwe African Union Patriotic Front and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party.

The rights of local communities need to be taken into account, they said.

“It was apparent and crystal clear that communities were living under siege from elephants and other wild animals,” the committee said. “Communities were very emotional about the threat posed by elephants.”

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 6
  • comment-avatar
    grabmore 6 years ago

    Why are MPs so concerned about how hungry elephants are when human beings in their neglected constituencies have been starving for a decade?

    Why the hurry to sell them? Eish things must be bad in govt when you start trying to black mail the world

  • comment-avatar
    Mukanya 6 years ago

    The so-called LAWMAKERS showing signs of fatigue thinking!!!
    What is the current population stats. of these animals?

    • comment-avatar
      Verenga 6 years ago

      Ummm…the stats have been given in the article… 45 000 elephants on 14 651 square km, growing at 5%.

  • comment-avatar
    grabmore 6 years ago

    There are virtually no elephants left, Mukanya. The next generation will have to travel to Botswana to see them. Funny how Botswana has even less vegetation than Zimbabwe and they are not selling baby elephants for US$60 000/ea. Funny hey?

  • comment-avatar
    Petal 6 years ago

    Its all about money in their bank accounts if only the elephants could trample over these people

  • comment-avatar
    Villager 6 years ago

    Relocate the peole to the 100 ‘ s of A1 fertile farms now lying idle in the hands of a few.They will till the land and feed themselves,the animals have more space and we will all live happily ever after.