Esinathy Sibanda, Chronicle Reporter
GOVERNMENT earned about US$2,7 million after exporting 97 elephants to China and Dubai, a Cabinet Minister said.
Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Priscah Mupfumira said the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority received the generated revenue and used it to support elephant conservation activities.
The elephants were sold for prices ranging from US$13 500 to US$41 500 each.
This comes when the country is pushing for the legalisation of ivory trade which is restricted by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES).
“Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority exported a total of 97 sub-adult elephants to China and Dubai between 2012 and 1 January 2018. A total of 93 elephants were exported to China and four were exported to Dubai. The elephants were airlifted to Shanghai Wildlife Park, Jiangmeu-Hesham, Chimelong and Umurgi in China and to Dubai Safari Park. There were no elephant deaths in transit,” said Minister Mupfumira.
“The Authority received US$2 715 000. The beneficiary of the revenue generated was the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority. The funds were used to support elephant conservation activities.
“The major conservation activities supported included anti-poaching operations through purchase of patrol vehicles, fuel, protective field clothing. Wildlife protection also included supporting intelligence and investigation units dotted throughout the country. Other activities included research and monitoring of major wildlife species, as well as carrying out conservation education and awareness campaigns in local communities living with wildlife.”
Minister Mupfumira said the country is now overpopulated with elephants and Government is pushing for lifting of ivory trade restrictions. Government has more than US$300 million worth of ivory which cannot be sold due to the restriction.
“Zimbabwe’s carrying capacity is 55 000 elephants but now we have 85 000. We cannot cull due to CITES restrictions and this is one of the issues we discussed recently at the Elephant Summit in Kasane, Botswana,” she said.
Minister Mupfumira said it was unfortunate that countries that did not have wildlife were deciding how the animals should be managed.
“We are sitting on ivory worth US$300 million which could be sold to fund our conservation programmes as well as benefit communities living in wildlife areas,” said Minister Mupfumira.
Botswana has the highest elephant population in Africa followed by Zimbabwe, Namibia, Zambia and Angola. – @esinathy_essira