I am sure you will all be very disturbed to read the following press release about the fate of baby elephants being shipped from Zimbabwe to China – as they face an almost certain death sentence. You can read about how this illegal trade in wildlife and poaching started in the 1960s and 70s in my Katambora series, The Sand of Katambora and recently released Katambora Rising. Subscribe to my blog for further updates on this critical development.
The 34 youngsters and seven lions will be piled into container trucks and driven 650 miles to Maputo in Mozambique. Then comes the arduous 7,000-mile voyage to China where winter temperatures plunge as low as -25C.
So what, you might say. Zimbabwe says it has a surplus of elephants. And they are only animals. Except elephants are smarter than your average animal. They have strong family bonds and mourn dead relatives.
Worse still, these youngsters are aged between just two and five years old and need their mothers.
Johnny Rodrigues of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force said: “They will be very traumatised. Baby elephants are weaned up to five-years old. Without the supplements in their mothers’ milk they’ve no chance of survival.
“In the wild the young males are driven away aged about eight to form male herds. But the females stay with their mothers, aunts and grandmas all their lives. These are intelligent animals. This is so cruel. It’s like kidnapping your children.”
A baby Elephant stands alone at Hwange Park
Unless China, Japan, Vietnam and other states change their ways, many of these species are doomed
Johnny is trying to mount a legal challenge to prevent the export which can only go ahead with Zimbabwe’s approval. He has also started a petition in the hope that international pressure can help.
But the Far East seems to have a death wish for wildlife. The slaughter of elephants, tigers, rhinos and now lions is driven largely by demand for their body parts in tawdry bangles or traditional Chinese medicine.
Prince William visits China next year and has the illegal trade in wildlife firmly in his sights.
Unless China, Japan, Vietnam and other states change their ways, many of these species are doomed.