Wildlife regulator blasted after baby elephant dies in China

One of the four  baby elephants sent to China

By Tererai Karimakwenda
07 January, 2013

The international body responsible for issuing trade permits for endangered species (CITES), has been strongly criticized for allowing the sale of four, wild caught, baby elephants from Zimbabwe to zoos in China, after one of them died from the trauma.

CITES went against its own regulations, which prohibit licensing the sale of endangered species for commercial purposes, by issuing permits for the wild caught baby elephants to be flown to two zoos in mainland China in November, 2012. The wildlife regulator is now being accused of turning a blind eye in Zimbabwe.

There is also a global petition going around the world, to save 14 more young elephants that are in Zimbabwe, waiting to be transported to China sometime this month. Conservation groups are trying to stop this by all means, especially through online petitions to CITES.

The three that survived the trip to China are currently being kept alone in unfamiliar surroundings. The temperature in their new home is much colder than the African climate they were born in. This constitutes “risk of injury, damage to health and cruel treatment”, which are prohibited by the CITES convention.

Johnny Rodrigues, chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF), told SW Radio Africa he was “disgusted” and “heartbroken” by these recent developments, because elephants are “just like humans” and taking their babies is just like kidnapping.

Rodrigues confirmed that one baby elephant had already died in China in December and 14 others are awaiting transport from Zimbabwe. He stressed that this must be stopped and pleaded with the international community to help.

“CITES is supposed to be there. I don’t know how they even authorised this to happen. I mean, not so long ago they passed an appendix that said no trade in ivory , but then they give a license to export baby elephants from their own home territory to another,” Rodrigues said.

He added: “These are the guardians around the world that are supposed to be protecting these animals. Now for them to actually accept and recognise and issue an license to Zimbabwe, the way I look at it there is a lot of greed and somebody is either being paid off or it’s just things that don’t make sense to me and it’s disgusting.”

Rodrigues explained that the 14 wild caught, young elephants awaiting transport to China will most likely be flown out of Zimbabwe after the required, three-month, veterinary quarantine period ends this month.

He pleaded: “We are asking the international community and anyone who cares to help us, prevent these animals from being destroyed. If they are going to die, let them die in their own territory with family members around. Elephants are amazing animals.”

In a statement the Conservation Task Force said: “We are saddened and disgusted that these elephants have been removed from their mothers and the African bush to live alone in a cold unfriendly jail cell in a foreign country. We believe the temperature at the Xinjiang Tianshan Safari Park is less than 20 degrees Celcius below zero. It is highly unlikely the elephants will survive in the cold when they have been accustomed to temperatures of between 30 and 40 degrees.”

A petition being circulated by AVAAZ, the global protest group, can be found here.

5 Responsesto “Wildlife regulator blasted after baby elephant dies in China”

  1. Gloria Sapp says:


  2. Al Brown says:

    Send the wildlife regulator to China as well! Idiots!

  3. Yepec says:

    Crocodile tears by CITES. There are 14 more elephants from Zimbabwe to be exported to China then the much awaited staging of the UN World Tourism Congress in Victoria Falls, late this year. Is all this by mistake? Who said that even the UN cannot go down on its knees to please dictators?

  4. Katy K. says:

    I am boycotting “Made in China”, as sysiphian task as ever there was in this day and age. I am heartbroken by the heartlessness of the Zimbabwaians and the Chinese. Is there nothing the U.S. can do to stem trade with China until the Chinese stop funding the slaughter of elephants for their ivory and now importing baby elephants for display?

  5. Chimbwido Warvet says:

    Nobody in his/her full faculty can denigrate the Chinese people, a nation that is going to be the major economic power of the world in the next year or so. For those who do not know, the economy of China will be greater than the United States, Canada and Europe put together in the next few years. They have become a great nation because they are a united people, unlike Zimbabweans who are too busy fighting each other and are very jealousy of each others’ success. Until such time all Zimbabweans work together like the Chinese, Japanese, Koreans and Indians, we will remain the laughing stock of the world even though we have all the natural and human resources that can make us a great nation. It is a disgrace that Zimbabweans can not work together, 33 years after independence. Slavery and colonialism that thrived on dividing people on racial and tribal lines did lasting damage to Zimbabweans. Even after 33 years as a sovereign and independent state, it is still difficult for Zimbabweans to get out of the miserable slave and colonial mentality and think as brothers and sisters in our country of birth. It is a disgrace.

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