Zimbabwe rips 35 baby elephants from their mothers for export to Chinese zoos
According to The Times of London, the calves, some as young as two years old, are being held in pens in Hwange National Park while travel crates are prepared and documents finalized for their 7,000-mile transport.
This is the fourth time since 2012 that Zimbabwe has captured and exported baby elephants to Chinese zoos — a total of 108 elephants — despite opposition from other African countries, elephant experts, and non-governmental organizations, including the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International. In October 2017, HSI obtained exclusive footage of 14 young elephants awaiting export to Chinese zoos, after their capture from Hwange National Park by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority. The footage showed the calves being beaten and kicked as they were being sedated and taken away to the park’s holding pens. In 2016, Zimbabwe exported 30 baby elephants to Chinese zoos. Several juvenile elephants in earlier shipments had died during transit or after arrival. It was shocking to see photos of the few surviving baby elephants, standing alone in dark, barren cells after their arrival in China.
The exports are even more disturbing given that China and Zimbabwe have in the past failed to conform with requirements under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). In 2016, when China sought to import 30 elephants from Zimbabwe, a team of Zimbabwean inspectors who travelled to China to assess the facilities the elephants would be housed in found them inadequate. The inspectors reported that most of the zoos showed signs of poor treatment of the animals and recommended the elephants remain in Zimbabwe until appropriate holding facilities in China were completed and assessed for compliance. Despite this recommendation, the elephants were exported to China without such reforms being implemented.