Zim elephants sold for a song

via Zim elephants sold for a song – The Zimbabwe Independent August 28, 2015

ZIMBABWE is selling sub-adult elephants for US$24 500 each amid indications that the export of the animals is set to continue, with government arguing the elephant population in the country’s national parks far exceeds their holding capacity, especially at the vast Hwange National Park.

Wongai Zhangazha

Last week this paper reported the country is preparing to ship at least 170 baby elephants to China as it has emerged that seven Chinese veterinarian doctors are camped at Hwange National Park conditioning the animals for the rigours of a long-distance flight.

The government says the park is currently holding about 53 000 elephants whereas its holding capacity is between 20 000 and 30 000.

In June, Zimbabwe exported 24 elephants to China sparking an international outcry from animal rights activists and conservationists. The jumbos were taken to Chimelong Safari Park in Guangdong Province of China.

The Zimbabwe Independent has it on good authority that an additional 176 elephants are being prepared for shipment to the Asian country, although the government denies the reports.

Permanent secretary in the ministry of Environment, Water and Climate Prince Mupazviriho however says there is nothing wrong with animal exports. He claims animal rights activists and conservationists are only raising their voices because the elephants were exported to China.

China has a reputation of cruelty to animals as it subjects them to unnatural living conditions such as zoos.

“If they were not going to China, there wouldn’t have been such noise,” said Mupazviriho in an interview.

“Around the same time we exported the elephants to China (June) we exported 10 rhinos to Botswana in exactly the same way, but no one made a fuss about it.”

Mupazviriho defended the ongoing elephant exports saying the country had an excessively large population of jumbos. The elephants, he said, were causing extensive damage to the environment and threatening the existence of other animals, in addition to coming into conflict with humans.

“… Those animals are destructive. Not just destructive to the environment in terms of grazing, but they also destroy the vegetation which other animals also depend on,” he said.

“When you also look at an elephant, it drinks 1 000 litres of water per day; if you have 50 000 elephants, then how many litres of water do we need to give them, given the very dry areas they live in and the limited resources?”

He said while there was a need to look after elephants so that they are not hunted to extinction, there was also a need to ensure their population does not grow to a point where they will not thrive on available land.

To control the population, government had the choices of culling the elephants, encouraging hunts or exporting them, Mupazviriho said.

Selling the animals was a viable option which should be encouraged even by animal lovers, he insisted.

Approved hunts, where money could be ploughed back into conservation, was also an option, but Mupazviriho believes hunts would not contain the increasing number of elephants.

“One could cull, but should we shoot them to rot. We cannot do that because culling on its own is not sustainable.”

“… Now, if I am giving them to someone to look after them, not in a zoo, but keeping them alive, is one not being very much a conservationist by making sure that you are keeping these animals alive?” he asked.

Mupazviriho said it would be irresponsible to keep elephants beyond the holding capacity of parks as the animals will venture into areas where humans live to find space, thereby increasing human-animal conflict.


  • comment-avatar

    It’s the problem when you have stupid people in a ministry. How can anyone think that ripping young ones out of ellie herds and sending them off to a zoo (any zoo), and translocating rhinos (who do not have the same herd structure) to the wild in Botswana (where they will at least be safe and lead a natural life)is the same thing????? You are a stupid man Mupazviriho. Were you trained by Kasukuwere?

    • comment-avatar
      Jelle Boef 7 years ago

      Whereas I do not think or feel that Zimbabwe’s elephants are properly managed for conservation, I am not blind to realities on the ground either.

      Some realities and questions here: Where is the conservation funding and support for its National Parks? Why do people-wildlife conflicts always end up with the wildlife losing out? Why is the distribution of wealth and production facilities so uneven in Zimabwe? Why is some 90% still living in poverty versus a 2% high enders? Why is habitat loss for wildlife never leading to questioning economic growth terminology? Where is the sustainability in it all?

      Lest we forget: Hwange’s elephant population at least is doing better than most and the reality is they cannot be moved to insecure areas elsewhere in Zimbabwe. If the sale of elephant juveniles and sub-adults goes in some way to providing conservation funding for park management and not end up in the coffers of corrupt officialdom than fine. Otherwise, … Zimbabwe is a country in serious trouble with large scale poverty, corruption, abuse of office, ethnic cleansing (this goes down to the period of Independence Wars against the white minority regime, particularly where ZANU is concerned and the Cecil Rhodes hordes too …).

      Can I see an early solution NO, nor do I see a credible opposition rectifying all the wrongs done by ZANU now. For the 24 elephants sold and sent to P.R. China I know their welfare and outlook is a lot BETTER than in the Hwange Compound or even on the National Park territory.

      Time will only tell what will ensue in Hwange after all 170 elephants have left!

      But will I run with the activists outrages claims NO. I prefer quality and informed data and information on elephant management and populations in the park, sale for captive-breeding projects in situ or out of range countries OVER emotive and somewhat libelous – even at times outrages and totally baseless – claims over the elephants’ conditions both here and overseas.

      I remain open to the full facts!!! Will someone provide a real bit of in-depth journalism over media hype and sensationalism? I just wonder …..