Isdore Guamombe in GUANGZHOU, China
Zimbabwe will increase the number of wildlife exports to China and will not apologise to anyone for taking that decision, Minister of Environment, Water and Climate, Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri has said.
Addressing journalists after touring the National Ex-Situ Conservation Base for World Endangered Wild Plants and Animals at Quingyuang Chimelong near Guangzhou in China yesterday, Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said she was satisfied with the conditions the elephants exported to China in July last year, were being kept, contrary to lies peddled by Zimbabwe’s detractors in Western Europe and United States of America.
“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. 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.
“After tourism Chimelong Safari Park, I am satisfied that the animals are in good shape and are being well taken care of.
“The Chinese have inquired about more elephants, baboons, hyenas and lions among others and we will sell them more without hesitation. We are not going to apologise to anyone,” she said.
Cde Muchinguri-Kashiri said Zimbabwe’s more than 84 000 elephant population faces critical water and food shortage due to climate and conflict with humans and that instead of allowing them to die of drought, Zimbabwe would rather export them to the Chinese and other friends who needed them alive.
“There is drought and soon the elephants will die. It is better we sell them, especially to those who can take good care of them. Whatever our detractors say, we don’t mind.
“At the moment the world faces two major problems, poaching and terrorism. We must, therefore, raise resources for the upkeep of the elephant by selling them. Poachers are getting complicated and we should also invest in sophisticated anti-poaching systems.
“We are here in China to also look at anti-poaching and surveillance technology like drones and helicopters because the poachers are getting more sophisticated. All these things need money and we must raise the money,” she said.
Zimbabwe started exporting sub-adult elephants to China in July last year and has been criticised by animal rights activists and Western European governments.
So far, Zimbabwe has exported about 100 sub-adult elephants aged between five years and seven years, but animal rights activists have chosen to call them infants or baby elephants as a way of attracting sympathy for the elephants and inviting the wrath of the world. But Zimbabwe has remained unmoved.
Chimelong Park is the biggest wildlife sanctuary in Asia and houses almost all species of wildlife from the world. It has a state-of-the-art animal hospital in situ, manned by qualified veterinary surgeons. Chimelong imports hay from the United States and Africa, as well as bananas, apples, water melons, carrots and apples for the elephants. The elephants are also fed on bread.
During the tour, Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri fed the elephants herself with carrots, bread, apples and other fruits.