EXTRACT FROM THE FOLLOWING THIRD PARTY SOURCE: Written by John Cassim for Anadolu Agency
Zimbabwean Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi, who also serves as environment minister, has defended his government’s decision to sell baby elephants to buyers in China, the United Arab Emirates and France.
Speaking to journalists in Harare on Wednesday, Mzembi said there had been considerable international politicking regarding the planned sale of Zimbabwean elephants. “We have an overpopulation [of elephants],” Mzembi said, responding to questions about the planned sale, which has set off a firestorm of debate in Zimbabwe and among international animal rights activists.
Mzembi said there were various ways to deal with the overabundance of elephants. “You can cull them or sell them… in accordance with treaties with countries that offer the appropriate habitat,” he asserted.
Selling elephant trophies could be another way of benefiting from the country’s large elephant population, Mzembi added.
Zimbabwe and Tanzania, however, have both been banned from exporting sport-hunted elephant trophies due to allegations of mismanagement and a lack of effective law enforcement. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service imposed the ban following news that numerous elephants had been poisoned at Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park.
Zimbabwe has also failed to dispose of 70 tons of ivory and five tons of rhino horn, due to a ban on the trade of ivory and rhino products laid out in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Mzembi’s comments come at a time when conservationists have petitioned the European Parliament to block Zimbabwe’s planned elephant sale.
Johnny Rodrigues, chairman of Zimbabwe’s Conservation Task Force, is leading a team of local conservationists who plan to petition parliament this month to block the planned sale of 62 baby elephants.
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