Animals are getting stolen from Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, and are ending up in China’s zoos according to The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force.
The group says that 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 captures of baby elephants. They are then taken to Mtshibi Capture Unit about 7 kilometres from Hwange’s Main Camp.
“So far 34 baby elephants between the ages of 2 ½ and 5 years old, 7 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.
China and the ivory trade
Last year poachers in Hwange National Park started poisoning water holes with cyanide in order to kill elephants for their tusks.
According to a report in December, more than 300 elephants fell victim to this.
The Environmental Investigation Agency issued a report earlier this month that found when Chinese government and business delegations arrived in China prices on the local ivory market doubled to $700 (or R7,727) a kilo during their visit.
“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… many kilos go out… many kilos. Half of his plane go with that,” one of the traders told EIA investigators.