HARARE – Zimbabwe follows proper procedures when exporting its elephants and does not sell baby animals, an official said on Monday.
Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority chief ecologist terrestrial, Rose Mandisodza said reports that Zimbabwe was exporting baby elephants were not true.
There have been reports that Zimbabwe was exporting baby elephants to China, sparking outcry from wildlife conservationists who were saying proper procedures were not being followed.
“We are not selling baby elephants as a country. Baby elephants cannot be removed from their mothers because when they are still babies, they are so dependent on milk, the moment you remove them; they will die, Mandisodza told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environment and Tourism.
“But what we are taking for export, we are taking sub- adult elephants.
These are independent, they are not dependent on milk and if we move them to new locations, they will be able to adapt.
“So we have exported several to China, and there are also other applications to take elephants to the US and other countries,” she said.
Mandisodza dismissed reports of illegal wildlife exports from Zimbabwe saying the authority conducted sales by the book.
“Currently we are doing live sales of elephants in the north-west Matebeleland where we have an over-abundance of elephants and in the past three years, we have sold some elephants to China,” she said.
“When we are selling animals, as the wildlife authority of Zimbabwe, we go to China and do a feasibility assessment. We go and assess all the properties and areas where the elephants will be going to and then reports and recommendations are written. And communication is also done to CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) and permits are processed.”
She added: “So all the elephants that are being sold, everything is being done with the necessary permits and requirements of CITES.”
The Committee also heard that Zimbabwe had the second largest population of elephants in the world which currently stands at 84 000.
About five years ago, CITES imposed a ban on hunting and trade in elephants, ivory and related products, a decision that did not sit well with southern African countries that have huge populations of the species.
Recently, President Mnangagwa attended an inaugural summit on elephants in Botswana, where it was recommended that African countries that have successfully managed to conserve their wildlife in a sustainable manner should be allowed to financially benefit their communities and economies from the resource. –New Ziana