Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Zimbabwe continues elephant capture despite opposition

Posted: 16 March 2015. Updated: 30 April 2019


Animal Defenders International is increasingly concerned about the trapping and export of wild elephants in Zimbabwe. We are calling for an immediate end to this terrible practice and urge supporters to join us in doing so.

In 2015, ADI joined other animal protection groups, conservationists and scientists in calling for Zimbabwe to halt the capture of wild elephants. Our letter to the Zimbabwean government stated how no conservation benefit can be gained from capturing the elephants, the detrimental welfare impact on the animals involved, the damage to Zimbabwe’s global image and its effect on tourism.

In response to the letter the Zimbabwean Ambassador to the United States told us that although Zimbabwe “subscribes to the principle of sustainable utilization” there is a need to balance “conservation benefits with the needs and expectations of the people who live with wildlife.” Zimbabwe claims that “sustainable utilization allows for wildlife conservation to contribute towards paying for itself.”

Separated from their family groups, 24 young elephants were snatched from the wild and shipped to a safari park in Guangdong Province, China.

In 2016, 35 young elephants faced a similar fate. Despite calls from ADI and other members of the Species Survival Network for the governments of Zimbabwe and China to cease the trade, in December the elephants were shipped off to wildlife parks in Shanghai, Beijing and Hangzhou. (Read the letters of opposition sent to the governments of China and Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe has reported that its elephant population is too high but that non-lethal options for population management have been preferred. This has included “capturing and translocating live animals to approved appropriate and acceptable destinations.” ADI does not consider a zoo facility to be an appropriate destination for a wild-caught elephant.

Previous capture and export operations in Zimbabwe have resulted in international outrage. Although a planned export to North Korea of elephant calves was prevented in 2010, four babies were exported to China in 2012, only one of whom is still alive. Living in isolation, the individual was reported to be suffering from poor physical condition and mental distress.

Despite hope in January 2019 that the new President of Zimbabwe might stop the trade, it has been revealed that 35 young elephant calves, torn from their mothers in the wild, are currently awaiting transportation to China. Previous reports have suggested that the Zimbabwean government are using the trade to fund conservation efforts in the country, but there are also reports that the money could be being used to pay off military debt. Under CITES this trade is legal. ADI is working to ensure that elephants receive greater protection at the forthcoming CITES meeting in Sri Lanka.

Please help stop the elephants of Zimbabwe being snatched from the wild

Email the Zimbabwean Ambassador and call for the capture and export of wild elephants to end. Find your local Embassy here. We have provided a template letter below for your use.

Email the Chinese Ambassador and call for import of wild elephants to end. Find your local Embassy here - you can adapt the letter below.

Dear Ambassador

I am writing to urge the Zimbabwean Government to stop the capture and export of wild elephants, a practice opposed by animal protection and welfare organisations as well as scientists and conservationists around the world.

The effect of removing this highly intelligent and emotionally complex species from the wild and from their family groups is severely compromised welfare, from the moment they are captured through to their incarceration at their final destination.

If Zimbabwe continues with this practice, long-lasting harm will be caused to both its reputation and tourist industry, likely to be more economically damaging than maintaining the elephant population in its natural environment.

The elephants of Zimbabwe should remain in the wild, where they can live full lives and interact in their social groups as nature intended and as they have done for generations.

I hope Zimbabwe will act to stop this practice.

Yours sincerely

© Animal Defenders International 2020