Tag Archives: zimbabwe

What happens when an elephant doesn’t die after you shoot it?

Six weeks ago, Pretty Boy, an elephant in Zimbabwe, was shot in the head. It is believed he turned to flee, and the poachers fired another shot into his shoulder.

The vets found him wandering inside Mana Pools when he apparently approached them, as if he knew they were there to help. He was treated and thankfully survived.

The intelligence of these beautiful creatures should never be underestimated. They think, feel, and experience the world in ways that we will never understand.

With their incredible levels of intelligence and extraordinary memories, these elephants will never understand why they or their family members were shot; will never forget what the poachers looked like; and most lastingly, will never forget how it made them feel. But perhaps all of that doesn’t matter, because their ability to forgive humans, and still peacefully share the same space with them, enables them to stay strong and survive. This will never cease to amaze me. And perhaps their ability to forgive is something that we humans ought to learn from the elephants.

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Ivory: what to do with it?

There’s a lot of it lying around, stashed away in safe houses under the tightest lock and key in Africa.

Kenya’s government burnt all of theirs in a very bold statement recently to drive home the point that there’s no use for ivory in an, ideally, obsolete trade. So just burn the things. And so they did. After all the black smoke rose into the skies and the tusks and horns reduced to ashes, there’s calm again and it seems like everyone’s on board.

But not quite so. A few African countries including S Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe wish to sell their ivory stockpiles. Their rationale is that the increased supply of ivory should lower the market price of tusks, which should reduce the killing because it won’t be as lucrative for the poachers. The funds could also be used for conservation, apparently.

It is all very interesting thinking, and applying rudimentary economic models to a complex situation might not work. Neither does assuming that funds generated from the sale will actually go to conservation. It is not new news that some of these countries could do with extra revenue to help national development either.

In September, big brother CITES will hold a roundtable in Johannesburg to determine what will happen.

At the end of the day, the real premise of why we should stop the trade should not be lost: that elephants are important, and that the trade must be stopped, in all cases and scenarios, and soon. Hopefully, Africa will reach a unified stance on how they view the trade so that a concerted effort is made to stop the elephants from being poached, once and for all.

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From the Zimbabwe wild to Chinese zoos

Last year, Zimbabwe sold 24 baby elephants to China for zoos and circuses in the name of ‘wildlife conservation’. This year, Zimbabwe intends on selling more. The live export trade means that elephant calves will be separated from their mothers and sent to China in cargo holds by air.

China’s extremely sketchy history of animal welfare practice offers no reassurance for the care of the African elephants that will end up on the other side. One needs only visit a Chinese zoo to understand the dire state of these institutions, and the unnecessary despair and suffering that these captive animals endure for a lifetime.

Moreover, the practice of sending creatures to other countries to conserve wildlife is questionable. It is, in essence, a revenue raising strategy executed at the expense of families being torn apart, a lifetime of stress for the elephants, and much else besides. Elephants also live to about 70 years in the wild. In captivity, 40 years.

At the end of the day, if we are to remove the politics and debate of strategic effectiveness from the equation- baby elephants need their mothers. And elephants belong in the wild. They are not a commodity, and no one should have the right to deem them as ‘saleable’ for a purpose that humans artificially designate to these beautiful creatures.