ANIMALS are getting stolen from Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park and ending up in China’s zoos, according to The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force.
The group says they first highlighted this issue when they encountered an Australian and Zimbabwean looking to earmark elephants in Hwange for Chinese zoos.
Now they claim that tourists are witnessing blatant live capture of baby elephants. They are then taken to Mtshibi Capture Unit about seven kilometres from Hwange’s main camp.
“So far 34 baby elephants between the ages of 2 ½ and five years old, seven lions and about 10 sable antelope have been rounded up for shipping but investigators were not allowed to get close enough to the compound to photograph as security there has become extremely tight,” the group claims in a media statement.
These are then trucked to Maputo in Mozambique, where they begin their arduous trip to China.
In 2013 three young elephants were shipped to China, only to be exposed to freezing weather conditions and confinement resulting in the death of one, and the other two getting sick.
Last year poachers in Hwange National Park started poisoning water holes with cyanide in order to kill elephants for tusks.
According to a report in December, more than 300 elephants fell victim to cyanide.
The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) issued a report earlier this month that found when Chinese government and out that business delegations arrived in China, prices on the local ivory market doubled to $700 (or R7 727) a kilo.
“The (delegation) used the opportunity to procure such a large amount of ivory that local prices increased,” the report says according to the BBC.
“When your president (Xi Jinping) was here…(sic) many kilos go out… many kilos. Half of his plane go with that,” one of the traders told EIA investigators..