Zimbabwe's capture of elephant calves for export condemned

11 July 2015 - 12:07 By RDM News Wire

International conservation and animal welfare organisations have condemned Zimbabwe’s capture of juvenile elephants for sale to China‚ Thailand‚ the UAE and other countries. More 80 young elephants were separated from their herds and are being held in groups of 10 in bomas in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park‚ according to a National Geographic report published in February and quoting sources monitoring the situation.Signatories to an international petition denouncing the capture of the calves said it took place in November last year.The Zimbabwe authorities say these removals are necessary for population control and to generate revenue.“Zimbabwe officials have acknowledged launching an effort to sell young elephants—which they say can bring $40‚000 to $60‚000 each—to foreign buyers‚” the National Geographic wrote.The officials also said that capturing calves and exporting them was more humane than killing elephants to control populations.The statement signed by 26 international organisations cites the African Elephant Database as saying the number of elephants in Zimbabwe had declined from 84 416 in 200 to 67 954 in 2013‚ suggesting the elephant population was not in need of control.In March South Africa’s SPCA has requested access to assess the state of the calves captured‚ but has as yet received no response from Zimbabwe.Few details are forthcoming from Zimbabwe authorities. It has been reported that the captured calves were trained for easier handling on their trip to foreign countries‚ but Zimbabwe has not provided details of these techniques.Nor has it provided information regarding the processes and requirements laid out by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) for the trade in elephants. Neither did it say how the calves were selected and removed from their families‚ an important factor because elephants have complex social structures.Young calves suffer immensely when removed from their family group‚ according to experts‚ including Joyce Poole who co-founded the Kenyan based research and advocacy group ElephantVoices. She says that Zimbabwe’s decision to capture and export these elephants is unethical.In 2012‚ a previous consignment of four elephants to China ended in the death of three of them after only two months in captivity there. CITES states that not only should animals be moved in a way that prevents injury and harm‚ but also that the conditions in their new home meets appropriate standards...

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