Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Capture of 170 elephant calves from Hwange National Park to China

Please send a letter, take other actions, and sign the petition!
Subject: Capture of 170 elephant calves from Hwange National Park to China
Permanent Secretary Prince Mupazviriho
Ministry of Environment Water and Climate
11th Floor Kaguvi Building
Cnr 4th Street/Central Avenue
P Bag 7753 Causeway
Dear Permanent Secretary Prince Mupazviriho,
As a supporter of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, a wildlife conservation charity based in Kenya, I am
writing to not only express my grave disappointment over the shipment of 24 wild elephants to a life of
confinement and confusion in China, but to share my serious concerns regarding the planned export of
an additional 170 elephant calves from Zimbabwe to China.
Following the death of Cecil the Lion, all eyes remain on Zimbabwe and the manner in which it protects
its magnificent species. It is in the best interest of Zimbabwe to make strong and ethical decisions
regarding its wildlife in order to prove to the world that it is capable of protecting its endangered species.
Zimbabwe offers tourists the rare experience of watching elephants roam freely in their natural habitat,
safe with their families.
While some 100 elephants are slaughtered each day in Africa at the hands of
poachers, Hwange’s elephants face a dire threat to their existence. It has been well-documented that
parts of Zimbabwe have lost 75% of its elephants over the past 14 years to poaching.
Although there has
been a reported 10% rise in elephant populations within Hwange National Park in recent years, this only
brings the total to 54,000 - a significantly low figure which in no way justifies the trade of young elephant
herd members from the wild to safari parks in Asia.
It is not only Zimbabwe’s duty to protect elephants from poachers, but to conserve their wilderness and
habitats, ensuring them a safe future in the wild.
Should Zimbabwe fail to conserve its wildlife, tourism
will inevitably decrease; as travellers choose to visit more sustainably managed wildlife parks and avoid
controversial areas. Although it has been claimed that the live trade in infant elephants will contribute to
the ‘conservation’ of the park, a detailed study performed by the DSWT’s iworry campaign found that an
elephant generates more than $1.6 million USD through tourism during its lifetime.
Elephants are worth
76 times more alive than dead, so is this trade even financially viable? Conservation and associated
wildlife tourism can provide long term financial gains for Zimbabwe, the trade of 170 baby elephants, will
offer only a one time financial incentive, which will soon be spent.
Regarding the elephant trade, in which you quoted, “… Now, if I am giving them to someone to look after
them, not in a zoo, but keeping them alive, is one not being very much a conservationist by making sure
that you are keeping these animals alive?”
Conservation is not merely about ‘keeping an elephant alive’ it
is the continued preservation of a species in their own habitat, for the benefit of many other means of
wildlife, which owe their survival to the existence of elephants in a natural habitat. Removing an elephant
from the wild has irreversible effects on the environment, wild spaces and ultimately the ecosystem,
which humans rely so heavily on.
In addition, the quality of life for elephants in captivity, away from their herd, and without careful
attention for their emotional state is extremely poor.
Elephants are fragile animals and several of the 24
were reported dead after capture and relocation. As explored in numerous elephant behavioural studies
and supported by Dr Dame Daphne Sheldrick DBE, who has hand-reared in excess of 190 orphaned
elephants in Kenya, elephants have the ability to feel strong emotions: love, loss, sadness, and
depression. Recent images of the 24 elephants in captivity reveal the physical and mental toll this trade in
wildlife has had on these individual elephants. It is with great sadness that I ask you to consider the grief
that the elephants feel after being torn from their families, to whom they are deeply bonded, to the
depression of being held in captivity, unable to roam naturally.
Family is all-important to elephants - if they lose their family, they are susceptible to death and irregular
The DSWT has spent decades perfecting the hand rearing of orphaned elephants to return
them to the wild, yet the Trust still loses calves because of the complexity of an elephants’ psychological
and physical state when separated from its herd.
Elephants are not built to withstand this trauma and the
ramifications of being removed from their natural environment.
You have it within your power to save these animals.
Regardless of the holding capacity of Hwange
National Park, these elephants deserve a voice, human understanding and respect. Elephants are
priceless and Zimbabwe should work to protect the species within its borders, where they belong and
where they are free.
You are in a position to help elephants and secure their future - please take the lead in protecting this
iconic species and their habitat.
Yours sincerely,

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