Zimbabwe’s Live Elephant Trade – More Rumbles From The Jungle…

What is happening?

I wish I knew.

But, like a kind of oriental torture, the drip, drip of new information is slowly shedding some (albeit weak) light on the situation..

The latest, as far as I can tell:

  • Some say that as many as 80-100 elephants have been caught by the Zimbabwe authorities for shipment to overseas zoos.
  • It has been suggested that value of each animal is around US$40,000-$60,000
  • Zimbabwe claims that the capture of these animals is part of its elephant population management strategy aimed at reducing numbers (Zimbabwe claims it has 40,000 ‘excess’ elephants)
  • Zimbabwe has (according to the preliminary results of the most recent 2014 survey) about 80,000 elephants – that’s about 10,000 less than the 2001 survey
  • France has confirmed that it will not issue import permits for any wild-caught elephants from Zimbabwe
  • Germany and Austria are not expecting any requests for import permits
  • CITES in Switzerland has made it plain that, so far, no rules have been broken and so any trade is down to the two contracting parties
  • Thailand’s name as a potential import destination is now being bandied around
  • China, the most likely destination for most of the elephants, remains silent on the issue.

So, as you can see, it’s all as clear as swimming in an elephant mud-wallow!

However, there is one thing that seems patently obvious to me: that any self-respecting zoo in Europe, the States, South America, Australia or the Far East that tries to import any wild-caught elephants from Zimbabwe or, indeed, anywhere else, will come in for profound, sincere and sustained global criticism in the court of public opinion. Sure only the truly delusional think that the challenges facing elephants in the wild will be resolved in any meaningful way by tearing a few hundred calves from their families, and incarcerating them in cramped, alien, largely sterile and unnatural enclosures in zoos around the world.

The battle to save the world’s elephants will be won or lost on the plains, in the forests and jungles, and in the semi-desert wilderness areas of Africa and Asia.

As for claiming that traumatising elephant families, ‘elephant-napping’ their babies and selling them into a foreshortened and almost certainly miserable life of servitude is part of a credible ‘elephant population reduction strategy’… well (and you know this is rare)… I am almost lost for words.

More news when I get it!

Blogging off!


13 Responses to “Zimbabwe’s Live Elephant Trade – More Rumbles From The Jungle…”

  1. Bryony Hedley Says:

    I am almost lost for words too Will. “Part of its elephant population management strategy” – yeah right. Delusional or what? Cannot bear to think about it, but think about it we must. OH how the thought of those babies makes my heart bleed. Thanks for the update, depressing though it is.

  2. Ann Early Says:

    Will, thank you for the summary of what is known so far. And you are so right, it has been slow torture day in and day out since we first heard about this in November. Thank you for all that Born Free is doing to try to help.

  3. Anne Davis Says:

    Thank you for all the hard work that you and your family are doing on behalf of our endangered wildlife. The plight of these wonderful creatures is in our hands , meaning us as human beings! I sincerely hope that not one elephant is captured in the wild and transported to a life of misery in a zoo! We all know how China views wild animals . We have only to look at their treatment of the poor Moon Bears caged for life to provide bile for so called medicinal purposes! We certainly don’t want the Chinese or any country getting hold of these elephants. Show me the Petition and I and thousands more will sign it I’m sure! Good luck. P.s Let Ricky Gervais know of their plight. He cares and a big name attracts attention !

  4. Diane Says:

    This is a horrific and barbaric practice of kidnapping baby elephants for shipment to China where more horrors await them. Can nothing be done to stop this?

  5. Mary Says:

    Thank you from Chicago! Please keep us updated!

  6. Melissa Sterry Says:

    Wise and well considered words Will.

  7. jennie Says:

    Europe USA South America Australia and the Far East are not capable of looking after the existing elephants they have in their care let alone taking on more! There are various petitions going around in those countries trying to get the existing elephants, who have been in isolation for decades or just not looked after properly, into sanctuaries for the remainder of their lives so I would suspect that if those countries tried to buy/have a baby elephant there would be another petition floating around demanding that the country did NOT take the baby. As for China…..

  8. Sandra Wilentz Says:

    Who is running this sordid show at this point? CITES or China? In 2013 CITES did their job and stopped the deal from proceeding. In the meantime relations between China and Zimbabwe have solidified and CITES seems to have had an aneurism faced with the task (their job!) of regulating a transaction that may be legal but is certainly not in the interest of conservation/sustainability! (see Zimbabwe Elephant Count Census). Are we ever to get a straight answer out of this ‘convention’ or will it come to a point where once all is said and done, they will be destroyed by the backlash resulting from such inhumane decision making and untimely handling of the basics, such as permits. The captures were carried out 3 months ago! These animals have been languishing for 3 months, getting weaker, while these mentally constipated, paper shuffling twits try to decide which loophole to jump through this time. By the time the shipments of baby Elephants arrive at their destinations, they will all be dead. Every effort was made to locate the Sable Antelope, while unbeknownst to the world, Mr Mugabe and entourage had put them on his birthday menu! This is legal criminality! Scandalous! I don’t expect anything good to come out of CITES, they are a waste of space and should be shut down for all their crimes against wildlife.

  9. Julie Says:

    It is beyond me how cruel humans are to rip babies away from their mothers in the wild. There is absolutely no reason for ANYONE to purchase live elephants.

  10. esme blair Says:

    Thank you Will. Zimbabwe as a whole has been extremely silent on the entire matter. Instead some twit has voted Zimbabwe as the “go to ” destination. While lodges and tourism as a whole desparately need this endorsement, the unethical events in Hwangwe will affect business. …any tour operator that uses photos of elephants to entice tourists should redo their websites and pamphlets and hang their heads in shame.
    The whole thing is deeply mired in politics. CITES in my opinion is no longer a credible organisation. The capture and sale of these babies do not meet any ethical standards, something we expect CITES to uphold.
    Politics, corruption and Asia…..Our wildlife is caught in this and is expendable to African govts znd Asia.

  11. Lucy Says:

    Thanks for your update Will! I’m telling my friends all about it. I am on a number of sites where there is a lot more discussion about the Ivory Trade and I think it’s very important to get the word out around the world.A seemingly innocent act of buying a small piece of jewelry by a tourist or art collector picking up a trinket in an Asian market can have a huge impact if we can stop them, educate them and ask them to stop buying!! I’ve heard the Asian Antiques markets are full of antiqued but recently killed elephant Ivory. It’s a very sad thing. Somehow we must continue to fight to stop this.My way is by reaching out to anyone, anywhere in the world, and tell them to “share,share, share” until everyone understands the killing must end. Or there will simply be no more elephants! Which would be an awful shame!!

  12. Gill Gilbey Says:

    Dear Will,
    I completely agree with all the above comments and feel the PAIN of all of us who love elephants and all wildlife.
    CITES does nothing,China says nothing ,this is unacceptable.How can CITES allow elephants to be transferred to any country that uses ivory?
    Surely CITES needs to explain and be held to account NOW by all the signatories.Have they forgotten that elephants are endangered and must stay in Africa.
    What about the UN speaking to Zimbabwe regarding their actions to deplete Elephant populations.
    For something as catastrophic as this stealing of baby elephants there should be an EMERGENCY summit for delegates.
    We must continue to name and shame those doing wrong.

  13. sue fletcher Says:

    All the above is correct. I am so heart sore about this and more so as living in Zimbabwe I see these wonderful animals first hand and in fact saw for myself some years ago a baby being taken to the holding pens in a trailer, I asked National Parks what was going on to be told they were taking babies for training for elephant rides. That of course was nonsense and it transpired that there were 3 or 4 babies destined for zoos but I believe it was stopped. This is all nothing to do with elephant population control, it is pure financial gain and more than likely to a single pocket. There will be no gain to National Parks. I would rather see these babies dead than a miserable life in a concrete Zoo.Is there not some sort of World Zoo Organisation that can stop this.