Zimbabwe earns foreign currency boost from sale of nearly 100 elephants to China

Zimbabwe has boosted its foreign currency reserves after the country sold nearly 100 elephants to China.

According to Face2Face Africa, the country sold 93 elephants to China and four to Dubai for $2.7m between 2012 and 2018.

The publication said that the elephants were between two and three years old and were sold for between $13 500 and $41500 each.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information Nick Mangwana told Bulawayo 24 News that the country had an elephant carrying capacity of 55 000, but had 84 000 elephants.

African elephants (Loxodonta Africana) are listed on Appendix II on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites).

Ivory trade

This means that trade must be controlled to avoid "utilisation incompatible with their survival", said Cites.

Poaching the animals for their ivory remains a grave threat to their survival.

"Illegal killing of African elephants for ivory remains a significant threat to elephant populations in most of the range states. At the same time, the human population of Africa has grown tenfold, from 125 million to 1 225 million, creating competition for land with elephants," said Cites Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero.

"We must continue to reduce poaching and illegal trade in ivory and find solutions to ensure the coexistence of elephants with local people."

Mangwana said that the prohibition on ivory trade (in place since 1990) was negatively impacting the country.

"Our ivory stockpile is worth over $300m, which we can't sell because countries without elephants are telling those with them what to do with their animals," he told Bulawayo 24 News.

The Cites Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programme found that more than 19 100 elephant carcasses were recorded between 2003 and 2018.

It linked the illegal killing of elephants to a rise in ivory prices.

"Specifically, strong correlation was found between ivory prices and the annual variation in PIKE [Proportion of Illegally Killed Elephants], while site-level variation was correlated with poverty density (number of poor people/km2) and estimated adequacy of law enforcement," read the Cites report.

Elephant management

Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, and Namibia are lobbying to lift the ban on trading ivory and would like to forge a unified policy on elephant management.

"That one size fits all approach from Cites of banning everything disregards the good efforts of our governments and is neither sustainable nor advisable. We must reject it," Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa told a gathering of ministers from southern African countries in May.

Namibian President Hage Geingob went further, saying: "I listened this morning to all the experts lecturing us, and I wanted to ask where they come from?

"If they are from Europe or the US, I wanted to ask them how they destroyed all their elephants, but come to lecture us," Bulawayo 24 News reported.

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