Nduduzo Tshuma Senior Political Reporter
ZIMBABWE has defended the sale of live elephants saying the move was cleared by the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species (CITES), but the United States’ opposition to the exports is a political move aimed at choking the country economically.The US recently banned elephant trophies imports from Zimbabwe on the basis that there was lack of clarity on the conservation of elephants in the country.
America is also leading protests against the sale of live animals by the country despite the fact that everything is being done above board.
This week famed actor Pierce Brosnan joined the campaign against Zimbabwe, protesting the intended sale of elephants by the country.
Addressing journalists during a tour of Hwange National Park yesterday, Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority Acting Director Conservation, Geoffreys Matipano said the hullabaloo about the country’s elephants was political.
He said the Americans were targeting the tourism sector to choke the country’s source of revenue knowing that elephants bring significant income into the country.
He said the country had the blessing of CITES to export as many live animals on condition that the practice was done on a sustainable basis.
He said countries that Zimbabwe was trading with also abide by CITES rules.
“We don’t do it outside international conventions. We have statutory instruments that make sure that we abide by the conventions. Zimbabwe is not the only country exporting live animals and only recently Namibia sold their elephants to Cuba but there was no issue,” said Matipano.
He said America could also be targeting China since it was a growing economy.
It was revealed that Hwange National Park has a population of more than 45,000 while the North West of Matabeleland had a population of about 53,000 elephants.
Due to the ban on exports of trophies, the country has a stockpile of 70 tonnes of elephant tusks worth more than $10 million and five tonnes of rhino horns that were being compromised in quality due to weather.
He said while the elephant population was decreasing in other countries, Zimbabwe was recording an increase.
“It has nothing to do with elephants. They are trying to create a perception into an actual situation. Tourism is quite important and contributes significantly to the Gross Domestic Product and the US therefore wants to tighten screws on our economy,” he said.
Matipano said after the US banned elephant trophies, the EU also made inquiries about the country’s lions but later said they were satisfied.