Zimbabwe, CITES attacked over elephant calves
Elise Templehoff
14 February 2019

The Humane Society International (HSI) launched a scathingattack on both the Zimbabwean government and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) last Tuesday night after 35 elephant calves were removed from their herds in Hwange National Park and are being kept in bomas before they are exported to China.

It is the fourth time since 2012 that Zimbabwe has caught elephant calves for export to China where they are used in zoos or circuses. A total of 108 elephant calves have already been captured in this way and exported to China.

The HSI wrote in a statement: “This is the worst form of abuse of wildlife. And it happens at this moment – again in Zimbabwe where 35 small wild elephants have been torn away from their mothers and are now waiting in bomas to be sent to China.

The HSI, in its statement, refers to a report that appeared in The Times of London a few days ago and was written by a Zimbabwean journalist about the 35 elephant calves being chased one by one into crates while “documentation” is being completed to export them to China.

According to The Times, a journey of over 11 000 km.

HSI says Zimbabwe is continuing to export elephants to China despite fierce opposition from much of the international community, elephant experts and non-governmental and conservation organizations, such as HSI.

“HSI received secret video footage of the conditions in which 14 elephant calves are kept in a Chinese zoo in 2017. The video shows how the elephants are beaten and kicked. They are then injected with an anesthetic before being dragged into cement cages and locked up.

“Zimbabwe exported 30 baby elephants to China in 2016. Many of them died during the long journey. It was shocking to see the surviving elephants: they just stood there, alone in concrete cells,” wrote Kitty Block of the HSI.

According to the HSI, it is especially disturbing that both Zimbabwe and China, who are both supporters of CITES and signed the convention, do not comply with regulations.

CITES are also supposed to sign export permits for elephants. Michele Pickover, of the EMS Foundation, said on Wednesday that CITES had not responded to elephant calf queries so far.

She said CITES is not an animal welfare organization and is only interested in the trading of wild animals and plants. CITES are not interested in animal welfare. She added that CITES is a trading organization.

HSI said 33 conservation organizations wrote an open letter to new Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa last year, pleading that the country should stop trading elephants. “Our plea fell on deaf ears,” Block said.

According to HSI, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Zimbabwe’s environmental affairs minister, recently made a statement in Zimbabwe to export more game so that the country could earn money to plow back into conservation. According to her, the Chinese still want to buy elephants, as well as lions, baboons and hyenas”. We will trade these animals without hesitation. We’re not going to apologize to anyone for this, “she apparently said.

Zimbabwean Game and Park Agency spokeswoman Tinashe Farawo said Zimbabwe had too many elephants and the animals were not threatened. He also pointed out that there is now a lot of conflict between the local people and elephants.

Beeld noted previously “Zimbabwe is deeply indebted to China. China has built a  new parliamentary building and military base for Zimbabwe. China has also helped expand the Kariba South Hydro-electric scheme and build three sun farms.

In addition, Zimbabwe apparently owes $ 3.8 million to a Chinese woman, Song Li, chairman of a Chinese investment company in Harare. Song Li is also the owner of Eagle Tannery, which provides military clothing, shoes and belts to Zimbabwean soldiers. Song also has a share in Chinese zoos, safari parks and circuses. Because Zimbabwe has no money to pay Song Li, she indicated she would be satisfied with 200 elephant calves.

Translated from Afrikaans: https://www.pressreader.com/