By Oscar Nkala
The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) has secretively
delivered two baby elephants to Pakistan, ignoring appeals from local and international animal rights activists for their rehabilitation pending the release of the animals back into the wild.
The two baby elephants were captured in June last year and held inside the same bomas as 35 others which were exported to China in October.
Network for Animals (NFA) investigators went undercover and visited the quarantine bomas at Mtshibi Camp, a secluded high-security zone deep inside Hwange National Park, only to find the bomas empty.
Inside sources who spoke to NFA said a secretive delivery of the animals took place early in December: “Yes, the two baby elephants were delivered to Pakistan early in December. It was such a secretive operation that even the game rangers on duty at the bomas were never told it would happen. “They were shocked to see a truck arriving to take the elephants to Victoria Falls International Airport, from where they were flown to Pakistan. I do not know the name of the zoo, but we know that it is in
the city of Lahore,” said the source.
The two were held together with the 35 which were exported to China in October last year, despite a massive international outcry by animal rights campaigners who pointed out that the exports violated Convention on International Trade In Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) regulations which prohibit the export of elephants outside Africa.
The sale to Pakistan was in limbo for months due to court battles against the importation in the Lahore High Court. Sources in Mtshibi said preparations are underway for the capture of an undisclosed number of baby elephants for export to a number of countries in Africa and China.
ZimParks spokesman Tinashe Farawo was not available for comment. However, he is on record for defending such baby elephant exports as necessary to raise money to fund broader wildlife conservation activities.
NFA executive director David Barritt, condemned Zimbabwe’s continued exports of baby elephants, saying it was an inhumane act which violated international law: “At the recent CITES meeting, live trade in elephants was banned. The Zimbabwe government went ahead with the sordid transaction anyway. It is an utter disgrace.”