by Johnny Rodrigues
12th January 2015
Acting Zimbabwe environment minister Walter Mzembi has stated that Zimbabwe will not be deterred from exporting 62 baby elephants to China, France, and the United Arab Emirates.
Mzembi said that Zimbabwe has in excess of 80 000 elephants, but only has the capacity for 42,000. We don’t believe this figure. A proper count has not been done since 1997, so we don’t think anybody knows exactly how many elephants there are. A count was done in Hwange National Park late last year. 22,000 elephants were counted there. Hwange has the highest concentration in the country.
Mzembi stated that the reason for the worldwide outcry about the elephant exports is political and that the people who are objecting don’t want Zimbabwe to make any money.
The government received a letter from 31 tourist agents in America who stated that if the exports go ahead, they will not be send any tourists to Zimbabwe.
A new survey released last month showed that the elephant population has decreased by more than 40% in the Zambezi Valley, Matusadona, and Chizarira areas. This survey was produced by a partnership among the Great Elephant Census, Paul Gardner Allen, and the Parks & Wildlife Authority.
A professional count needs to be done. Every year in the hot season, elephants come into Zimbabwe from Botswana and Zambia to look for water in Hwange National Park. It stands to reason then that all the elephants in the park are not Zimbabwean elephants and the counts are always done in the hot season. The count should be done in winter and simultaneous counts should be done in Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique, and Namibia.
This would give us a much better idea of the true elephant population.
Chair, Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force
Landline: 263 4 339065
Mobile: 263 712 603 213
E-mail: [email protected]