Wildlife

Zimbabwe’s Plan to Export Wild Elephants: The Full Audio Interviews

Over the last few months, there have been ongoing and alarming reports about a group of elephant calves held captive in enclosures in the Hwange National Park,  Zimbabwe’s flagship wilderness area.

Inside sources, people on the ground in the park, have said that these animals were snatched from their wild herds, rounded up in a facility, and are now being readied for export to unconfirmed destinations around the world.

As news of this leaked to the public, there was a tide of outrage, a petition was created calling for their release, and a host of news stories reported that the animals were, allegedly, to be shipped to China.

In late March, Botswana held two meetings in Kasane – The African Elephant Summit and the Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade – attended by countries from all over the world, including Zimbabwe. I was assigned to cover the meetings and talk to delegates about the progress made on stemming the rampant illegal trade in ivory and other endangered species, but also, specifically, to see if I could find out more about the captive Hwange elephant calves and their yet-unknown fate.

Below are some of the conversations I had around the touchy issue – with the CITES Chief Scientist Tom de Meulenaer; the Minister for Botswana Tshekedi Khama; and, importantly, the Minister of Environment of Zimbabwe – Saviour Kasukuwere.

Listen to their comments and judge for yourself.

Follow Paul Steyn on Twitter and Instagram.

Paul Steyn is a widely-published multi-media content producer from South Africa, and regular contributor to National Geographic News and blogs. Having guided throughout Africa for some years, he went on to edit a prominent travel and wildlife magazine, and now focuses on nature storytelling in all its forms. In 2013, he joined a team of researchers and Bayei on a 250km transect of the Okavango Delta on traditional mokoros. In 2016, he accompanied the Great Elephant Census team in Tanzania and broke the groundbreaking results on National Geographic News . Contact: paul@paulsteyn.com Follow Paul on Twitter or Instagram
  • ShakingMyHead

    What will next come out of the mouth of this Minister Saviour Kasukuwere from Zimbabwe? He can not even keep his lies straight. A sign of deep deep corruption and ignorance when a man changes his story this often. Who would want to deal with him and this corrupt country?

  • Ann Early

    Paul, thank you for posting these amazing interviews. This is the first time I have heard actual voices of people close to the issue of the Zimbabwe babies. I wish you could post transcripts. I could not hear the CITES representative as I could the others.

  • johanna uski

    Thank you for these posts. Transcripts would be really helpful!

  • heather tisdale

    baby elehants have top stay with their mother for 2yrs befoe they can been taken away ,& why should they be taken away they should be left where they are in their natural inviroment leave them be, DONT TAKE ELEPHANTS OUT OF THE OWN SURROUNDINGS LET THEM STAY WITH THE REST OF THE HERD DONT TAKE BABY ELEPHANTS AWAY FROM THE MOTHERS DONT PUT THEM IN ZOOS NOR IN CIRCUSES OR ANY OTHER PLACE FOR ANY OTHER REASON THEIR ARE A LOT OF NASTY PEOPLE WHO DO NOT TREAT ELEPHANTS OR ANY OTHER WILD ANIMAL RIGHT THEY ARE VERY CRUEL TO THEM SO LEAVE WILD ANIMALS WHERE THEY BELONG.

  • Rolf Rompelman

    I have read much on the media and FB regarding this issue which I feel very strongly about.My question is What right do we have to remove these youngsters from their mothers and herds and ship them off to China.Try and imagine people tearing children from their mothers and picture the outrage.I believe the Animal Kingdom have the same rights to live their lives freely and without this threat to their well being.Never mind the spin-I do not listen to politicians spout nonsense THis practice needs to be stopped and yesterday would be good.

  • Helen Clarke

    These are wild animals. The government should be protecting these majestic creatures,how date they take them away from their family’s to make money. Corruption- money-greed!

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