The African country earned $3m from selling nearly 100 elephants, four of which went to Dubai
Zimbabwe earned nearly $3 million selling close to a hundred live elephants to overseas countries over a period of six years, with four of the animals exported to Dubai, according to public comments made by a Zimbabwean cabinet minister this week.
“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,” Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Priscah Mupfumira said during a session of the Zimbabwean parliament, according to a report by the state-owned The Chronicle newspaper.
“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,” she added.
The minister said the individual elephants were sold for prices ranging from $13,500 to $41,500, depending on their age, raising a total of $2.7 million in revenue for the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.
The minister’s comments come as Zimbabwe tries to reignite the debate to legalise the trade in elephant ivory. The trade is currently restricted by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES).
Zimbabwe currently has a stock of around $300 million worth of ivory but is unable to sell it due to the restrictions. While the minister said the funds generated from the sale of the live elephants were used to support elephant conservation activities, she said the country was overrun with the animals.
“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.
“We are sitting on ivory worth $300 million which could be sold to fund our conservation programmes as well as benefit communities living in wildlife areas,” she added.
The UAE has been an active member of CITES since 1990 and, under Emirati law, anyone caught smuggling ivory faces heavy fines and/or a jail term.
Dubai Police last month seized over 2,272 pieces of illegal ivory, weighing 1,346kg, which criminals had attempted to smuggle through Dubai airports of the past few months.
Dubai’s Emirates airline is also a strong supporter of the fight against the illegal trade in wild animals.
“We’ve partnered with United for Wildlife, a global collaboration which unified the efforts of leading wildlife charities under the leadership of His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge. We were also one of the founding signatories of the Buckingham Palace Declaration on 15 March 2016, which calls for the entire transport sector to help in bringing an end to the illegal trade in wildlife.
"We helped to raise awareness of the problem and communicate the need for urgent action by applying special wildlife-themed livery to four of our Airbus A380s,” the airline says on its website.