Zimbabwe 'Secretly' Sells Wildlife To Chinese Zoos
As wildlife conservationists continue to conduct studies on the effective ways to preserve wildlife in Zimbabwe, the African country reportedly sells elephants, lions and hyenas to zoos in China secretly.
IOL reported that a herd of young elephants was flown to Shanghai, China, via Russian plane Airbridge Cargo747. The cargo airplane confirmed to reporters that 35 caged elephants between ages 5 and 12 years old left Victoria Falls last week.
While National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority spokeswoman Caroline Washaya-Moyo refused to comment, there have been reports about wild animals being sold due to Zimbabwe's bankruptcy. In fact, lions and hyenas are set for export to China via a cargo ship before this weekend.
Last month, the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority spoke to EU wildlife experts who were conducting a research on wildlife preservation. Although the European experts were told that park rangers were planning to capture a mother elephant in Hwange National Park to travel with the young ones within the country (as they would go crazy without a matriarch), they were not informed that the young elephants will be sent to China.
"Parks should just tell the truth about exporting wildlife. It is not illegal locally or internationally," a wildlife enthusiast in Zimbabwe commented. "Of course no one likes it, but we should deal with it in public."
Chinese zoo owners reportedly bought these wild animals as tourist attractions -- a motive ultimately dreaded by wildlife conservationists.
"Wild elephants and zoos are a horrible combination," said National Geographic explorer-in-residence and wildlife filmmaker Dereck Joubert. "Elephants need to roam and feed and interact with others daily, hourly, year after year."
"They need the opportunities to be playful, to stand and just be with their sisters and aunts and extended families, and they need to hear a call from five miles away from a nearby clan," he added. "They can't be whole in a zoo."