By Aislinn Laing
Former Bond star calls on fans to write to Zimbabwe's environment minister over planned export of elephants to the United Arab Emirates
Actor Pierce Brosnan has called on fans to protest the planned export of wild elephants from Zimbabwe to the United Arab Emirates and China.
Mr Brosnan, a long-standing campaigner for animal rights, said he was "deeply saddened" to read the "gruesome story" that 36 baby elephants had been taken from their mothers and were awaiting shipment "to the UAE and possibly China".
The Bond actor posted a link to the Telegraph's report about the export on his Facebook page and urged followers to write to the Zimbabwean government to express their outrage.
"We need your help and voices to protect these babies and to stop this shipment of wildlife cargo," he wrote. "Please contact the Zimbabwe Minister of the Environment, Saviour Kasukuwere and ask that he release these majestic endangered animals at once."
Mr Brosnan shared the environment minister's Twitter and Facebook contact details, as well as a suggested Twitter hashtag, #ZimbabweElephants.
Mr Kasukuwere admitted to the Telegraph earlier this month that elephants were being rounded up in Hwange National Park in the west of the southern African country.
The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force said visitors witnessed the capture of young elephants by government helicopters and ground teams, who roped them together after separating them from their mothers by firing shots above the heads of the herd.
The Telegraph obtained photographs of an unknown number of elephants being held in wooden pens in a compound in Hwange administered by Zimbabwe's cash-strapped parks authority.
Mr Kasukuwere said it was normal for wildlife to be captured in the country's largest game reserve and exported "from time to time". But he denied reports that the animals were destined for Chinese zoos, saying they were headed to the UAE. "We have sent our vets there to look at conditions," he said.
Last year, wildlife groups rescued five young elephants taken from their families in northwestern Zimbabwe. The same year, three baby elephants were sent to China. They survived the journey but one died shortly afterwards and the other two are reported to be in poor health.
Elephants live in highly social societies and babies are fully dependent on their mother's milk until at least five years old.