Wild baby elephants (Loxodonta africana africana), born amongst the acacias of Zimbabwe, are being sold to zoos in China by the Zimbabwean authorities.
Late last year four baby elephants, one of whom is already dead, were transported to China and it is believed that more are due to follow shortly.
In Zimbabwe wild animals are a business commodity and, as such, they occasionally face export. However, this recent case of young elephants being sent to zoos in China has resulted in frantic, well-informed voices raising the alarm. The distressing photographic evidence suggests their concerns are well-founded.
In his recent series ‘Africa’ Sir David Attenborough made it clear that all those involved with wildlife in Africa realise the need for the successful interaction between animals and the communities they live amongst. Footage in the series shows how well the experts understand that on an increasingly crowded continent there is a need for all parties, animal and human, to benefit from living side by side.
Part of the ‘Africa’ series is devoted to elephants. The filming shows their social life, their bonding, and the harsh realities behind their survival in Africa. It includes unrelenting close-up footage of a mother elephant watching her calf die from thirst and lack of food. It is heartbreaking but in context.
To watch a wild, African-born baby elephant of a similar age try to survive in isolation on the concrete floor of a zoo in China is unbearable. The video clip below is distressing.
African elephants are creatures of legend, respected the world over as the largest animals walking on Earth. Zimbabwe’s elephants have survived drought, poaching and political turmoil – they are dignified symbols of hope and endurance.
The plight of the lonely, traumatised young Zimbabwean elephant in Taiyuan Zoo should haunt us all.
Has Zimbabwe sold its soul?
(Thanks to China Zoo Watch for the photographs and footage. Please click on this link for Animals Asia Foundation for further information.)