BY XOLISANI NCUBE
Government pocketed more than US$2 million from the sale of baby elephants to China and Dubai between 2012 and December 2018, Environment minister Prisca Mupfumira told the National Assembly last week.
She said since 2012, Harare has sold 97 sub-adult elephants to China and Dubai.
“Thus 93 elephants were exported to China and four were exported to Dubai. The elephants were airlifted to Shanghai Wildlife Park, Jiangmeu-Hesham, Chimelong and Umurgi in China and to
Dubai Safari Park, Dubai and the United Arab Emirates. There were no elephant deaths in transit,” Mupfumira told the National Assembly after MP Nicola Watson (MDC Alliance) had asked
the question on how much government had realised from the sale of the elephants.
“The (Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management) Authority received US$2 715 000. The beneficiary of the revenue generated was the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority. The
funds were used to support elephant conservation activities as an umbrella species,” Mupfumira said.
The country has been selling baby elephants and other wildlife to Asian countries, creating anxiety among wildlife activists, who allege that this was causing extreme stress to Hwange
National Park herds.
In December last year, 31 young elephants were flown to Chongqing and Daqingshan safari parks in China.
According to international media, the calves had open wounds and appeared ill and lethargic at the time of shipment on Ethiopian Airlines, indicating poor husbandry and handling.
But Mupfumira denied the allegations.
In her detailed response, Mupfumira said four of the sold elephants fetched US$13 500 each, bringing a total of US$54 000. She said the other 24 elephants from 97 were sold at $US$20
000 each, in total cashing US$480 000.
“The other 35 elephants were sold at US$31 000 each, with a total of US$1 085 000 and 30 other elephants were sold at US$31 000, bringing in a total of USD$930 000. The last four were sold at US$41 500 to bring a total of US$166 000.
This brings a combined total of US$2 715 000. I thank you,” she said.
According to Mupfumira, Zimbabwe has 85 000 elephants against a carrying capacity of 55 000, but it is banned from selling its elephants under Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
“We have an excess by over 30 000 elephants, which we would want to sell, but we are restricted under CITES and this is one of the issues we have been discussing at the Elephant Summit
in Kasane, Botswana. We want to make sure that we are able to decide what to do with our animals. We would want to sell more to enable us to capacitate our rangers with the equipment
and the resources they want,” she said.
“We also want to improve the livelihoods of people living with animals because at the moment, the incidence of human-wild life conflict is on the increase, with loss of lives, but we
are restricted, hence the summit to ensure that we come up with a common position as KAZA (Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area) and as Sadc,” Mupfumira said.