Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Controversy over Zimbabwe’s elephant sale

A herd of African elephants drinking at a muddy waterhole, Hwange national Park, Zimbabwe A herd of African elephants drinking at a muddy waterhole, Hwange national Park, Zimbabwe Artush
21 Jan
2015
Sixty-two elephant calves are set to be exported from Zimbabwe to countries across the world, the country’s authorities have confirmed, causing outrage amongst conservationists

Each elephant calf is expected to be sold for up to $60,000 (£39,400), with Geoffreys Matipano, the director for conservation at the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authorities, quoted by Bloomberg as saying that the money would go towards funding running costs at Hwange National Park (where many of the calves where sourced). Zimbabwe’s tourism minister, Walter Mzembi, has defended the plan, citing it as a solution to the country’s current ‘over-population’ of elephants, and accusing dissenters of jealousy over the deal. The exact number of elephants residing in Zimbabwe is disputed, with recent aerial surveys recording a population of 58,000, whereas the government’s official statistics place that number nearer the 70,000 mark. 

The calves, allegedly between two-and-a-half and five years old, are still at an age where separation from their mothers is known to be both physically and psychologically damaging. One calf is already known to have died during this ordeal, with another subsequently sourced as its replacement. While trade in elephants is not illegal in Zimbabwe under the CITES agreement to protect wildlife – it merely has to be properly regulated – there have been widespread protests over the plan, with conservationists fearing that even if they survive the journey, the animal’s quality of life will be severely diminished. A petition has also been set up calling on the Zimbabwean government to put an immediate stop to the plan.

While the government has remained silent over the exact purchasers of each animal, it has confirmed that the animals will be shipped to the United Arab Emirates, France and China. ‘You can’t take these animals out of Africa and send them to these inhumane areas where they’ve got no good track records,’ Johnny Rodrigues, of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF) stated.

ZCTF has previous success in this field – in 2012 it managed to return five Zimbabwean elephants marked for export to China and returned them to the wild. Of the four trades it was unable to stop, the organisation claims that only one of those elephants remains alive.

Related items

Julysub 2020

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

geo line break v3

geo line break v3

University of Winchester

geo line break v3

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Derby

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in NATURE...

Wildlife

Increasing reports of seized jaguar fangs and skin suggest that…

Geophoto

Forced isolation has given many of us the chance to…

Oceans

A fifth of the ocean floor has now been mapped,…

Wildlife

Four ex-circus lions discovered in France are due to be…

Oceans

A roundup of some of the top discussions from the…

Energy

The agave plant, used to make Tequila, has proven itself…

Climate

Concerns about the ozone hole have diminished as levels of…

Wildlife

In the Eastern Cape of South Africa, Munu – a…

Geophoto

Photography competition, Earth Photo, returns for the third year with…

Oceans

A new study reveals the process behind the strange phenomenon…

Wildlife

Hunting is a topic that attracts polarised viewpoints. But as…

Oceans

A compilation of 50-years worth of data on human activity…

Wildlife

From the US to the Mediterranean, herds of goats are…

Wildlife

Meet the 2020 Whitley Award winners

Wildlife

Protecting the most famous members of the animal kingdom may…

Climate

With Milan announcing an ambitious new plan to reduce air…