Not impressed with the state of its own environment, Zimbabwe is planning to shepherd more of its elephants to China.
Last year a small group of young African elephants were imported to Qingyuan city’s safari park in Guangdong, as part of an international African elephant conservation program.
The 85,000 elephants currently residing in Zimbabwe are becoming increasingly threatened by the country’s worsening environment and human activities including poaching.
On a visit to the center on Thursday, Environmental Minister of Zimbabwe Oppach Muchinguri was feeling good about the planned move:
We are happy that young African animals have been well accommodated here in China. We are willing to export more in the years to come as it would help in the preservation of wild animals. Because of the bad weather, including drought, we cannot keep the large population of elephants any longer. They consume lots of water and they need lots of food, which we cannot afford… Our ecosystem cannot accommodate that large number of animals. So we would rather export and sell more elephants and other animals to those willing to take care of them.
The provenance center is owned by the Chimelong Group, also responsible for the world’s only surviving panda triplets.
The program marks yet another milestone in cooperation between Zimbabwe and China. Last month, Zimbabwe announced that it will adopt the Chinese currency after Beijing cancels its $40 million of debt. China has long been Zimbabwe’s biggest foreign investor with other nations staying clear due to the country’s shaky human rights record.
But it’s deals like these that earned Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe his Confucius Peace Prize last October.
By Pinky Latt