Calling on the CITES Secretary-General to investigate China’s dark trade in Elephants

Jul 17, 2019 | Petitions

Following investigations and evidence that once more Zimbabwe Authorities have unlawfully captured infant Elephants for export to Chinese and Pakistan Zoos and Circuses bringing the debate of the Live Elephants Trade back into the spotlight as 37 infants awaiting their fate in Bomas at Hwange National Park. Illegal permits are being used to ship the elephants to inappropriate destinations.

Zimbabwe’s Elephants are on CITES App 11 listing and thus Trade under certain terms can be permitted. Policies in the Country on Sustainable Use are being out weighed by the Constitution. Zimbabwe made conservation history in 1983 by shipping 62 Juvenile Elephants to USA Zoos and Circuses. Over the decades Elephants have been shipped around the World. 

The issue is not specifically on export and illegal CITES paperwork, but also with the capture process, a current system where herds are chased with helicopters and lagging juveniles targeted and darted from the craft with sedatives and then loaded up into crates and taken to inadequate quarantine unit to be prepared for transport to overseas Zoos and Circuses.

2017 Guardian report gives graphic expose on the part that is played by the Zimbabwe Parks Authority after the Elephants are drugged and separated from the Herd.

Note : this video is the overhead visual of the Helicopters role in the capture

However, it is the most recent captures and exports to Chinese Zoos that have caught the media attention. Since 2012 they have exported 114 infant Elephants to “Appropriate In-Situ Conservation Programs” yet evidence is showing these Elephants are resold in China to unknown Destinations and are now performing in circuses and zoos in deplorable conditions. Animals Asia report confirms that China is importing Elephants under the age of six.

CITES regulations are being broken with no regard and no address to the flouting of terms by both Zimbabwe and China. Zimbabwe’s Wildlife Act is clear, the capture and export of wildlife has to meet a specific criteria. The current crisis is that there is no transparency or accountability which is unlawful. In February 2019 when the Media reports caught the attention, a group of Young Environmental Lawyers in Zimbabwe decided to challenge the Authorities and the Ministry of Environmental Affairs on Constitutional National Laws for Transparency and Accountability on the Elephants and Rhino exports and compliance to the Regulations as set by CITES that all Trade is Public records.

People and Earth Solidarity Lawyers together with the support of 6 Zimbabwe NGO’s (VAZW,  SPCA-Mutare, Tikobane Animals Welfare, Sibanye Animal Welfare, Voices For African Wildlife and Zimbabwe Elephant Foundation) lodged a Petition to Parliament in March 2019 calling on MPs to bring the Authorities to account.

Parliamentary Petition Information

Critical steps have been taken to ensure that evidence is collected on the Unlawful Trade in Elephants and Wildlife happening in Zimbabwe that will be presented at the COP18 meeting. With some vague responses from the Parliamentary Committee spokesman no official tabling of the Petition for debate. With growing concerns that the Elephants are suffering the consequences of long term capture with animal welfare visits being obstructed and pressure from information being received from China of the expected arrival date to ensure clarity and to prevent the export, a High Court Application for an Injunction was lodged on May 21. No response from the Authorities till June 6 in the midst of reports coming from the capture unit that the road transport trucks had arrived and loading was imminent. The High Court stood fast and refused the State urgent hearing application so a  date for a hearing is still to be set.

High Court Application Information

We are asking  for your assistance as Global Citizens to call on the Secretariat Ivonne Higuero for a full independent investigation into China’s dark trade in Live Elephants

NB : This Petition will be delivered direct at #COP18 in Geneva


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