By Janice Ponce de Leon
Dubai: UAE authorities said no shipment of baby elephants from Zimbabwe is headed to the UAE as claimed by animal welfare advocates.
Some 80 baby elephants were captured from their mothers late last year with the intent of selling them internationally.
China, the UAE and France were believed to be destination countries as mentioned in local reports.
American actress and animal advocate Pamela Anderson on Tuesday issued a statement urging UAE authorities to stop the importation of dozens of baby elephants captured in Zimbabwe.
Anderson, an honorary director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), said in her letter that she is deeply upset by the heartbreaking news of the baby elephants being taken away from their mothers with the intention of selling them.
“I am writing to you to urge you to do everything in your power to assist in the effort to stop such profiteering at the expense of wildlife,” Anderson wrote.
Elsayed Ahmad Mohammad, Programme Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said the baby elephants are destined elsewhere.
“The Ministry of Environment and Water here assured us several times that no import permit has been issued for importing baby elephants. Until now, we have not found any evidence that the UAE is involved in this issue,” Mohammad told Gulf News.
Mohammad said that there are many allegations as to where the baby elephants are going to be sold but they have yet to receive information on the confirmed destination.
A previous statement by the Ministry of Environment and Water denied that it is importing baby elephants captured from Zimbabwe for commercial purposes.
However, it said a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) import permit was issued to import seven African elephants from Zimbabwe for a protected conservatory.
“These elephants are from one family group of different ages, and includes one calf, which is accompanied by his mother,” the statement read.