Elephant Slaughter in Zimbabwe

Dear Friends,

I am sure many of you will have been as horrified as I was to learn about British citizens hunting elephants in Zimbabwe, as reported in last week’s Sunday Times (‘British Kill Entire Elephant Herds’ 18/1/09).   Sadly, Zimbabwe is one of the handful of African countries where it is still legal to hunt and kill an elephant, with CITES* permitting the export of 1000 elephant ivory tusk trophies every year.  But, the report focussed on culling – the mass eradication of elephant, ostensibly to reduce numbers but in reality almost certainly to provide meat to a stricken human population and a restless army.

I find it simply impossible to understand how any British citizens could think it is acceptable to carry out such irresponsible and gruesome activities, consciously propping up one of the most discredited regimes in the world. It’s like sanction-busting.

Whilst we cannot substantiate the reports, Born Free regularly receives information and news concerning the dire situation Zimbabwe’s once-thriving wildlife populations are facing.  For example, an informant who asked for his identity to remain confidential, told us that the Zimbabwe Government are hugely inflating elephant numbers in order to justify the government-sanctioned culls.

In July last year, I watched with utter dismay as the CITES Standing Committee approved a legal one-off sale of ivory from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe.  Although the UK government made a short statement denouncing the political regime in Zimbabwe, it did not actively vote against the trade.  This is, in my view, completely unacceptable.  Where is our so-called ethical foreign policy? The late Robin Cook would have been horrified.  

Born Free is therefore calling on the UK Government to take a stand and publically condemn the activities featured in the Sunday Times article, as well as immediately introducing measures to deny import licenses for any ivory tusks originating from Zimbabwe.

Let me know what you think.

Blogging off

Will

*Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

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