Elephants Face Slaughter in Save Valley (Zimbabwe)


Wongai Zhangazha, Zimbabwe Independent

Date Published

About 300 elephants and some lions could be culled — reduced in
population through selective slaughter — in the Save Valley
Conservancy amid reports that the large number of animals at the
conservancy in the South East Lowveld of Zimbabwe is destroying the
area’s biodiversity in the wake of the El Nino-induced drought that
has hit the country.

The planned culling has sparked a war-of-words between range owners
and some militant conservationists.

Zimbabwe Wildlife Conservation Taskforce chairperson Johnny Rodrigues
said he was convinced the animals were being culled as part of a ploy
by range owners to force America to reverse the ban on ivory trade and
trophy hunting. Europe is considering a similar ban. He said the
culling of the animals was shocking and a gross infringement of animal

Culling involves reducing the population of a wild animal by selective
slaughter. It is usually done by sedating selected animals before
shooting them.

However, Save Valley Conservancy vice-chairperson Wilfried Pabst, a
German national, in a telephone interview this week said culling would
only be a last resort.

He said the conservancy was in a dilemma with what to do with the
increasing number of wild animals, but was considering various
options, including translocation before culling.

“I understand that 300 elephants are being culled and it’s something
that’s being carried out now by different ranches in the Save
Conservancy. It’s really surprising that people can kill such a big
number of elephants claiming that elephant population is too high yet
the estimates are so secretive and also vary. These are people who
want to try and give this picture to America that the banned trophy
hunting has left them with no choice, but to kill these animals,”
Rodrigues said.

“Instead of trying to raise funds to translocate these animals to
probably Gonarezhou National Park, they decide to cull the elephants.
What is going to happen to all the meat, how about all the ivory
considering that we successfully lobbied for a ban in ivory with
America? The state should be responsible and take action.”

“While it was expensive to transfer the elephants from one area to
another with the cost of one elephant being at most US$10 000, this
culling should be stopped and funds should be raised to transfer the
elephants,” he said.

Asked to comment, Pabst described Rodrigues as a loud-mouthed person
who was failing to provide solutions to conserving wild animals.

“Yes we have too many elephants, but there is no culling that’s taking
place at the moment. Rodrigues invents all kinds of stories, he is
just ill-informed. The question that needs to be asked to him is what
has he done to protect wild animals? He always complains, but why
doesn’t he offer any solutions. Bubye recently said they are finding
difficulties in managing lions, and were considering different ideas
of what to do with 200 lions but did he offer any solution, it is just
complaints,” he said.

“What we are considering at Save Conservancy is a translocation of the
animals to other areas. I can’t get into details about it until the
deals are generally concluded. If the transactions are sealed there
will be translocation maybe in Zimbabwe maybe not of a variety of
animals’ elephants and lions included. People need to consider that
there is drought and there are too many animals that are causing a
strain on the plain. So we are trying every avenue here we can to make
sure we save the animals. Who knows maybe sometime next year we can
consider culling some of the animals.”

Save Valley Conservancy measures about 3 400 square kilometres and was
formed by combing 24 adjoining farms.