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Call to Stop Zimbabwe Elephant Sales as World Set to Mark Wildlife Day

FILE: The African Wildlife Foundation co-sponsored a pre-World Elephant Day event in Karen, Kenya August 9, 2014. Photo: Immanuel Muasya/Benuels Photography .

Many countries are expected to commemorate World Wildlife Day on Tuesday with some key players expressing dismay over Zimbabwe’s proposals to sell over 60 elephants to China and other nations.

Some of the concerned organizations include World Animal Protection, African Wildlife Foundation and several others that will be joining the rest of the world in marking this day.

They claim that moves by Zimbabwe to sell the elephants will jeopardize efforts to contain wildlife syndicates engaged in the illegal sale of elephant tusks, rhinoceros horns and related animal parts.

African Wildlife Foundation’s director for program design and partner relations, Jimmiel Mandima, tells Studio 7’s Gibbs Dube they don’t believe in the sale of live elephants.

He says the world will mark World Wildlife Day at a time when it needs millions of dollars to fight illegal wildlife trade while seriously concerned about the sale of wildlife like elephants.

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Last week Zimbabwe’s acting conservation director in the National Parks and Wildlife Authority, Geoffreys Matipano told VOA Studio 7 the elephants were being sold as a cheaper option to culling and to decongest habitats that are being destroyed by the country’s more than 80,000 elephants as human-wildlife conflicts grow.

In this photo supplied by Mwanga Lodge, Shamva, Zimbabwe, a baby elephant is bottle fed by a carer.
In this photo supplied by Mwanga Lodge, Shamva, Zimbabwe, a baby elephant is bottle fed by a carer.

This year, countries, United Nations and international organizations, as well as citizen’s groups from across the globe, have rallied around the theme ‘It’s time to get serious about wildlife crime’.

In his message to mark the Day, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, has urged people to live harmoniously with wildlife.

Mr. Ban said, “Illegal wildlife trade is threatening the survival of some of our most charismatic species, as well as some plants and animals you may have never heard of. And it threatens people, their livelihoods, their safety and security.

“The situation is serious. We must tackle the poaching, transport and consumption of illegally traded wildlife and in so doing use the same sorts of enforcement tools, techniques and penalties used to combat other serious crimes, such as trafficking in drugs or persons.”

He further said, “As we celebrate the beauty and variety of our wildlife let’s do whatever we can – as citizens and as consumers – to bring this illegal trade to an end and secure a sustainable future for wild animals and plants, as well as for ourselves. We know what needs to be done – and by working together we will succeed.”