Zimbabwe’s Reported Plan to Export Baby Elephants Raises Outcry Against Animal Trade

News that Zimbabwe has captured dozens of baby elephants from the wild and plans to export them overseas ignited a firestorm of alarm in conservation circles, raising new questions about the policies that govern the trade of live elephants.

The elephants are reportedly headed to China, where they would most likely be held in zoos.

Revelations of the capture came to ­­light late last month in a report by an activist group calledZimbabwe Conservation Task Force.

The task force alleges that China has “ordered” a number of baby elephants and other wild animals from Zimbabwe. Johnny Rodrigues, an activist who leads the group, says that at least 36 elephants have been captured, along with 10 lions and 10 sable antelopes.

The elephants are allegedly between two-and-a-half and five years old, a highly vulnerable time in their lives, when separation from their mothers is known to be emotionally traumatic and physically dangerous.

In a Radio Dialogue interview and in a Telegraph article, Zimbabwe officials confirmed the capture of elephants but claimed that the elephants would be shipped to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), not China, adding confusion to an already mysterious situation.

Read the whole story on National Geographic News.

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Christina Russo is a freelance journalist. For nearly 15 years, she has worked as a producer for a number of public radio programs, including NPR/WBUR’s "On Point" with Tom Ashbrook. Christina also freelances for Yale Environment 360, where her written work focuses mainly on wildlife conservation issues. She is the co-producer, with WBUR, of the nationally syndicated documentary on American zoos, From Cages to Conservation. She has written numerous articles about animals, including a story about caring for donkeys in Ethiopia; a veterinarian saving horses in Sonoma County, CA; an elephant sanctuary in northern Thailand; and the work of pre-eminent whale biologist Roger Payne for her hometown newspaper, The Gloucester Daily Times.