As if wild-caught Zimbabwean elephants in Chinese zoos wasn’t bad enough, now United States zoos are also in line to receive wild-caught elephants from Hwange National Park.
CITES officials in Zimbabwe have allegedly confirmed receipt of an application to trade in wild-caught elephants from Hwange, for zoos in USA.
A recent article published in the New York Times Magazine confirms this, saying that “a deal is in the works between a number of United States zoos and Zimbabwe”. This statement is backed up by Dan Ashe, president and chief executive of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and former head of the Fish and Wildlife Service, who also confirms that “an import of wild elephants from Africa to the United States is being planned”.
Zimbabwe has made headlines in the past when footage emerged of the inhuman treatment of young wild-caught elephants in Hwange, who were destined for Chinese zoos.
In February this year 35 baby elephants, some as young as two years old, were captured in Hwange National Park and were awaiting export to foreign zoos.
Based on the trade data of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), since 2012 Zimbabwe has exported 108 young elephants to zoos in China, despite opposition from elephant experts and non-governmental organisations.
A petition has been created that calls on the CITES Secretary-General to investigate China’s dark trade in elephants, with the intention of delivering it to the COP18 in Geneva in August.