Zimbabwe intends to proceed with plans to export live elephants to China, the United Arab Emirates and France because the country has too many of the animals and needs to fund its national parks.
The exports will go ahead despite opposition from wildlife activists because there is no alternative, the environment, water and climate Minister Saviour Kasukuwere said Friday in a speech in Hwange, the country's biggest national park.
“It has not been an easy journey. Where we have tried to cull, we are told no because it’s inhuman and we agree,” he said. “Where you try bring in the hunters there are also sanctions. Where we try to carry out live sales they say don’t sell. We are between a rock and a hard place.”
While Hwange has the capacity to support 15,000 elephants, the park in northwestern Zimbabwe has 43,000 of the animals. Overpopulation of elephants leads to damage to vegetation, which reduces biodiversity.
“We’ve chosen to be decisive,” he said. “There are those who complain, that’s your business to complain.”
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) criticised Zimbabwe’s treatment of elephants, saying the authorities used helicopters to scatter herds and then captured the young.
“These innocent and terrified babies have been traumatically torn away from their families,” Peta said in a statement.
Elephants can be sold for between $40,000 and $60,000 each, depending on age, and the revenue could help meet the $2.3 million annual running costs of the park in the northwest of the country, director for conservation at the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authorities, Geoffreys Matipano, said previously.
At the time he said 62 were destined for export.