Zimbabwe Sells Out Elephants

Photo by Stephen Oachs

Zimbabwe is engaged in a heartless heist of baby elephants for sale abroad. Details have been very hard to obtain, and it would seem government officials, aware of the international public backlash, are seeking to keep as many of the details as possible under wraps. Initial accounts, dating back to November, suggested that approximately 30 young elephants had been captured and were being prepared for shipment to China, the United Arab Emirates, and France. The Guardian reports that Zimbabwean authorities confirmed that 36 baby elephants have been stolen from the wild (one has died), and there are plans for a total of 62 to be sold for about $60,000 each. It is believed that the elephants have been taken from herds in Hwange National Park, and that they will be used for exhibition, but no information is being provided regarding who will purchase the elephants and when they will be shipped.

From birth, baby elephants maintain an extremely close relationship with their mothers. If allowed to do so, females will remain with their mothers and other family members in the herd for their entire lives, while the males remain until they reach full maturity at about 14 years of age. The herd is a cohesive group, and highly protective of its babies. The forceful separation is devastating to the mother and the entire herd—and for many baby elephants it is often lethal. In fact, in 2012, four young elephants were sent to China. Three of them are dead and the remaining baby is languishing in deplorable conditions in a Chinese zoo.

You can read The Guardian article here, and it includes a petition from the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force that you may wish to sign.