The Zimbabwe National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ZNSPCA) has been denied access to the country’s captive elephants, reportedly about to be sent to captive facilities in China. This suggests that welfare concerns are being ignored. The ZNSCPA is constitutionally permitted to access any part of the country if they suspect cruelty to animals. An urgent chamber application for access is likely to be submitted today.
A letter has been delivered by hand to the Chinese ambassador to the United Nations, urging the Chinese president to halt the reportedly imminent import of 33 captive elephants from Zimbabwe to undisclosed captive facilities in China (word on the ground estimates that the transport will occur today or tomorrow). The letter is penned by a group of thirty-five global specialists in elephant biology, husbandry, elephant management, legal and policy analysis, economics and conservation, most of whom are based in Africa. A similar letter was hand delivered to HE Mr Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava, the Zimbabwean ambassador to the UN, urging the President of Zimbabwe to stop the export.
In response to the news that a Chinese crew had arrived in Zimbabwe last week to prepare 33 baby elephants for export from Hwange National Park, Zimbabwean activists launched a last-minute bid to prevent it. After being forcibly removed from their families, the elephants have been living in captivity for nearly a year. The People and Earth Solidarity Law Network, a Zimbabwean NGO, filed a lawsuit in May 2019 that demanded details of the export deal. The case (HC4289/19) is before the courts but has not yet been heard by a judge. Their lawyers have sent a letter to the lawyers for Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks), stating that going ahead with the translocation “will amount to reckless disregard of the court process”.
Tinashe Farawo, a spokesperson for ZimParks, has denied that anything untoward is occurring or that the deal is secret, according to a report in the UK Telegraph. He did not, however, deny that the translocation is occurring.
Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations H.E. Mr. Ma Zhaoxu Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative
URGENT LETTER TO THE United Nations REGARDING IMMINENT IMPORT OF 33 YOUNG ELEPHANTS TO CHINA
We, the undersigned, are a group of thirty-five global specialists in elephant biology, husbandry, elephant management, legal and policy analysis, economics and conservation, most of whom are based in Africa.
We present our compliments to the Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations and His Excellency.
We are deeply concerned about the reportedly imminent import of some 33 juvenile wild-caught elephants from Zimbabwe to captive locations in China. Our concerns are based on our understanding of elephant biology, of international agreements and national legislation as well as public sentiment within Africa and more widely.
We urgently call on the President of the People’s Republic of China to immediately suspend and ultimately cancel the plans for this import.
We would greatly appreciate it if you could urgently forward our concerns and this letter to the President and the relevant authorities for action.
China has recently made significant strides as a conservation champion, especially through its dedication to the ‘Ecological Civilisation’ programme and subsequent leadership decision to terminate domestic legal ivory markets.
Chairperson’s Summary Report and Recommendations OVERSTRAND MUNICIPAL AUDITORIUM, HERMANUS, WESTERN CAPE, SOUTH AFRICA
On 6 September 2019, the EMS Foundation, convened an international Indaba and Panel Discussion with national and international elephant behavioural specialists in Hermanus, Western Cape, South Africa, to discuss the issue of elephants in captivity and to develop a framework as well as policy guidelines for dealing with elephants in captivity.
The Indaba was the first consultative gathering of elephant specialists and elephant interest groups in Africa specifically dealing with elephants in captivity, the role Africa has in sending elephants into captivity and what we need to do to get them out of the metaphorical room.
3. In order to enable frank exploration of the issues and practical proposals, the Indaba was conducted under the Chatham House Rule and with a number of “ground rules” which aimed to ensure open, respectful dialogue, and maximum participation.
The overwhelming message was that elephants belong in the wild and must be returned to the wild in all cases where this is a legitimate possibility. Given what we know about who elephants are and the conditions under which they thrive, there is no reason to keep them in captivity.
5. This Summary Report, which has been prepared by the overall Chairperson (Dr Don Pinnock) of the Indaba together with the Rapporteur (Dr Ross Harvey), provides a brief overview of the themes discussed and its outcomes, and is in no way reflective of all views articulated during the meeting.