Animal activists protest Zimbabwean baby elephant sales as Mugabe arrives


Sipho Masombuka, Times Live

Date Published
See link for photo. 
Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe was this morning greeted by protesters carrying banners protesting against his country’s contentious sale of baby elephants as his entourage drove into the Sheraton Pretoria Hotel.
The protesters‚ from animal rights organisation Ban Animal Trading‚ stood on both sides of the main entrance to the luxury hotel to ensure Mugabe and his minister of environment Saviour Kasukuwere got the message.
The large banners screamed: “Elephants in the wild=Tourism. Elephants Sold=Loss of Tourism”.
According to reports‚ Mugabe’s government has justified the sale of baby elephants to China and the United Arab Emirates by saying it was to raise funds to run game reserves.
The organisation’s Smaragda Louw said Mugabe was in essence saying wild animals should pay for themselves‚ and that the sale was simply to raise funds for the country.
“The way they cage and chain them is bad. This is all for the entertainment of humans and serves no other purpose‚” she said.
Louw said for them to live comfortably‚ elephants have to be kept in groups of between six and 12‚ saying China had no zoo large enough to accommodate this number at once.
“This means they will be caged and tamed‚” she said.
The planned sale of the elephants has stirred uproar from animal rights organisations around the world following the publication of photographs of the animals in holding pens.
US-Canadian actress Pamela Anderson‚ an honorary director of the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)‚ this week also reportedly wrote to Kasukuwere calling on him to do everything in his power to assist in the efforts to stop such “profiteering at the expense of wildlife”.
Louw said police tried to remove the protesters this morning but they stood firm because “we know our rights”.
Mugabe and President Jacob Zuma attended the South Africa-Zimbabwe Business Forum at the hotel this morning to look into untapped trade and investment opportunities between the two countries. – RDM News Wire, The Times