Breaking News! Urgent Help Needed To Save 35 Baby Elephants Waiting To Be Exported From Zimbabwe To Zoos In China

Photo by Oscar Nikala from Humane Society International

The recent capture of another 35 baby elephants who were torn from their mothers by Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, is heartbreaking enough. To learn that the frightened young animals, some as young as two years old, are now in Zimbabwe waiting to be exported to Chinese zoos for profit, makes the situation that much more unconscionable.

According to The Times of London, the elephants are being held in pens in Hwange National Park while travel crates are prepared and the documents finalized for the detrimental 7,000-mile journey to China; a move condemned by animal advocates and animal welfare organizations around the world.

“The capture of baby elephants from the wild is barbaric, and captivity will be a life sentence of suffering. Video footage shows that these young animals are already displaying stress behavior after being ripped away from their mothers and bonded family groups, and are terrified,” Audrey Delsink, Humane Society International/Africa’s Wildlife Director & Elephant Biologist, said in a statement, further explaining that calves normally remain closely bonded to their natal family groups; females never leave their families, while males only leave the herd at between the ages of 12 to15 years old. “With no adult females to look to for reassurance, guidance and learning, one can only imagine the youngsters’ distress.”

“Zimbabwe continues to exploit its wildlife to the highest bidder with no meaningful oversight,” continued Delsink. Recognizing elephants as sentient beings, South Africa has banned the capture of elephants from the wild for captivity. Zimbabwe must urgently do the same to redeem itself.”

Footage provided to Humane Society International/Africa shows the youngsters frantically pacing around the Hwange pens, some showing signs of stress such as temporal streaming, and others demonstrating wide-eyed, ear-splayed defensive postures.

Based on the trade data of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), since 2012, Zimbabwe has exported 108 young elephants to zoos in China despite opposition from other African countries, elephant experts, and non-governmental organizations including the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International.

Delsink’s sentiments echo those expressed last week by Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife speaking at the African Elephant Coalition Summit in Nairobi.

The African Elephant Coalition (AEC) is an alliance of 32 African countries, the majority of which are range states for the African elephant, and committed to the survival of the species, free from the threat of the international ivory trade. The AEC Secretariat is based in Nairobi, Kenya.

A statement released by AEC during the Summit called for an end to the export of wild elephants to zoos and other captive facilities. These positions are reflected in the proposals and documents submitted by the AEC to the 18th meeting of the CITES Conference of Parties which will take place this May in Sri Lanka.

In collaboration with the AEC, Humane Society International co-authored a report highlighting the challenges that the live trade in elephants poses to the CITES regulations.

Help Stop The Appalling Capture And Export Of Baby Elephants From Zimbabwe To China!

Now is your chance to urge the Zimbabwean government to stop the horrific and cruel export of live elephants to foreign zoos. Let’s stand together and tell Zimbabwe to keep African elephants in the wild, on African soil, and not subject them to lifelong captivity for entertainment in facilities in China or elsewhere. PLEASE SIGN HERE!

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