Zimbabwe

First pics emerge of Zimbabwe baby elephants in China

2015-09-25 09:42

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Harare - China's state Xinhua news agency has published the first pictures of a group of young elephants controversially exported from Zimbabwe in July.

The four photos show some of the 24 elephants near and in a concrete-lined water feature at what the news agency calls Chimelong National Rare Animals and Plants Provenance Centre in Guangzhou province. The calves are also shown feeding on grass.

Xinhuanet said on Thursday that the elephants were brought to China "as a part of the international African elephant conservation programme."

The outdoor group images of the elephants are in contrast to widely-circulated photos of a young Zimbabwean elephant alone in a concrete pen in Taiyuan Zoo in north-central China. It was exported in 2012.

Conservationists and animal lovers in and outside Zimbabwe made desperate efforts to stop this latest export of the calves, saying it was cruel to separate the animals from the rest of their herd. They were captured at the end of 2014 in Hwange National Park, the same vast state-owned reserve that Cecil the lion, who was killed in July, was from. The Zimbabwe authorities said they needed the money from the sale of the elephants to help pay rangers and fund anti-poaching activities.

The Chimelong Safari Park, which the national rare animals and plants provenance centre is believed to be part of, is just 1.3km square, according to its website. The site says that it houses 20 000 rare animals. It also says that it offers animal performances including "the world's most enchanting white tiger performance for guests."

This will worry conservationists, despite assurances two months ago from the UN-linked Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Management Authority of China that the Zimbabweans elephants were to be kept in a free-range setting and not used for circus-type performances.

Three elephant calves that were part of the group captured last year were not exported to China because of pre-existing injuries. They are now being cared for at the Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery.

Read more on:    zimbabwe  |  southern africa  |  animals

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