June 24, 2019
Zimbabwe plans to sell elephants to Angola and is prepared to ship wild
animals to any other interested countries as the southern African nation
seeks to reduce its elephant population due to growing conflict between
people and wildlife.
“We have no predetermined market for elephant sales, we are open to
everyone who wants our wildlife,” Tourism Minister Prisca Mupfumira said in
an interview on the sidelines of a wildlife summit in Victoria Falls. “The
main problem is landmines in Angola, so we are trying to assist them by
having a fund to deal with those before we send the animals.” Millions of
landmines were used in Angola’s 27-year civil war that ended in 2002 and
many have yet to be cleared.
Leaders of the four southern African nations that are home to more than
half of the world’s African elephants gathered in Zimbabwe on Tuesday to
discuss a common management policy and reiterate calls on the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species to relax some of its rules,
including a moratorium on ivory sales.
The four countries – Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and Botswana – joined forces
earlier this year to lobby CITES ahead of a global conference scheduled for
August. They say they should be free to decide how to deal with their
wildlife, and income from sales of ivory stockpiles can be used for
conservation. Botswana says it has too many elephants, while Mupfumira said
Zimbabwe had an”excess” of 30,000 of the animals.
Namibian President Hage Geingob and Zambia’s Edgar Lungu told delegates at
the summit that the rights of communities living among elephants are being
overlooked and there should be a “new deal” with CITES that allows them to
benefit from wildlife. President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana, who oversaw
the lifting of a hunting ban in May to enable villagers to shoot some
elephants if they destroy crops, made similar comments.
Zimbabwe has already sold African elephants to China in recent years. The
West African nation of Gambia, which doesn’t have any pachyderms, has also
expressed interest, Mupfumira said.
“They said come and teach us and send us technical know-how,” she said. “We
must allow free movement, and we must also decide – its our own resource.”