By Brian Latham
(Bloomberg) -- Elephants are under threat from poachers in Zimbabwe, where the population has plummeted in the wildlife sanctuaries and hunting reserves that are home to most of the animals, according to a conservation group.
The number of elephants in the northern Sebungwe district fell to 4,000 last year from 13,000 in 2001, while in Middle Zambezi Valley the population declined to 11,500 from 18,000, according to the Zambezi Society. In Hwange National Park, in western Zimbabwe, the population climbed by a “statistically insignificant” 10 percent to 54,000, the society said.
“The message for the rest of the Zambezi Valley is clear - - poaching is rife and we need to do something about it,” the organization said on Wednesday in an e-mailed statement from the capital, Harare.
In July, wildlife officials in Zimbabwe requested the U.S. reverse a ban on ivory imports it implemented a year ago citing concerns about the sustainability of the country’s elephant population. Zimbabwe’s elephant-hunting industry generates $14 million a year and helps control the population of 97,500 species that trample over trees and farmers’ fields, according to the country’s Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.
Human Method The Zambezi Society said it was looking for more information about the state-run authority’s plan to export elephant calves to China, France and the United Arab Emirates. The authority said in December that it’s considering the sale of more than 60 live elephants for revenue to help it meet the costs of running Hwange park.
“The current lack of transparency around this project has served to inflame public opinion,” the society said. “We believe a more open approach may, on the other hand, result in offers of assistance and ensure the entire process is conducted in as safe and human a method as possible.”
Several calls to the parks authority headquarters in Harare weren’t answered when Bloomberg News sought comment.
In some areas throughout Africa, elephants face the threat of extinction in the next 50 years amid soaring demand for ivory from Asia, according to the World Wildlife Fund.