Zimbabwe "Will Not Apologize" For Selling Wild Animals To China

489 Zimbabwe "Will Not Apologize" For Selling Wild Animals To China
There are thought to be around 80,000 elephants left in Zimbabwe, such as these in Hwange National Park. paula french/Shutterstock

Last year it was reported that Zimbabwe had started to sell young elephants to China, apparently in a bid to raise some much-needed cash to help fund conservation programs in their national parks. This practice brought international outcry, especially when pictures emerged of the juvenile elephants showing signs of distress while being housed in holding pens. Now, the country’s environment minister has announced that as the original sales were a success, Zimbabwe will increase the export of wild animals to China.

In response to the international criticism from the previous sale, when it is estimated at least 100 elephants ranging in age from five to eight were taken from the wild and shipped to Asia, the environment minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri was entirely unapologetic. Talking to the state-run Zimbabwean newspaper the Herald, she explained how after touring the Chimelong safari park in Guangzhou where at least 24 of the young elephants ended up, she was happy with the condition in which they were being kept.


“We are going to increase the number of elephants and other species we are exporting to China because they have done a good job in taking care of those they have already bought from us,” said Muchinguri-Kashiri. “We will not apologise to anyone. Not even once, because they are our elephants and our people live with a huge population of elephants and bear the trouble of interacting with them.”

But Zimbabwe is not, apparently, going to stop with elephants. According to Muchinguri-Kashiri, the Chinese have also inquired about baboons, hyenas, and lions, “among others.” It seems that little will stop the nation from selling them more “without hesitation.” The minister argues that the revenue raised – it’s estimated that the previous sale made $600,000 (£410,000) for the government – is essential if they are to pay for anti-poaching patrols and technology needed to protect the remaining wildlife.

In October last year, poachers poisoned over 60 elephants in Zimbabwe and removed their tusks so they could be sold on the black market. It is thought that the destination for this ivory is countries in the East, such as China and Vietnam. Despite this, the environment minister said that Zimbabwe has turned to China for help in supplying anti-poaching expertise and technology to try and prevent such slaughter from happening again.    

She also argued that the current environmental situation in the national parks, especially Hwange where the first lot of elephants were taken from, is getting so dire due to an ongoing drought that selling them is actually the most humane thing to do. “There is drought and soon the elephants will die,” Muchinguri-Kashiri continued. “It is better we sell them, especially to those who can take good care of them. Whatever our detractors say, we don’t mind.”


It seems that despite the overwhelming condemnation of the practice of selling the wild animals, the country isn’t actually breaking any international laws, and will continue to do so in the face of mounting disapproval from other nations.  


  • tag
  • african elephants,

  • conservation,

  • China,

  • poaching,

  • zimbabwe