Thirty-five Hwange elephants flew from Victoria Falls to China on a “Flight to Hell”


The Zimbabwean

Date Published
Under cover of darkness on the night before Christmas Eve, 35 young elephants, some believed to be as young as 3 years old, were transported from Hwange to Victoria Falls airport for a flight to China. But it wasn’t to be the secret mission shrouded in tight security that Zimbabwean officials had hoped for. This ‘Flight to Hell’ was soon all over social media, while Zimbabweans slept.
Our investigations revealed that the first to post public news of this was Sharon Pincott, who worked with the Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe in Hwange for 13 years but left in 2014 frustrated by unethical practices. She was in a different time zone and therefore wide awake. By the time Zimbabweans awoke, her Facebook post had been shared hundreds of times. Other sites were quick to spread the news which has enraged the world.

“Do they seriously think that they can keep doing this sort of thing now without people speaking out? There are a long list of people, from all walks of life, from both the sending and receiving countries who are horrified that ripping young elephants from their families continues to happen. It doesn’t take much anymore to get news out once an operation like this is in full swing,” said Pincott when we spoke to her.

“Those poor elephants were in tiny crates for more hours than I can bear to even think about, while there was delay after delay getting them loaded at Victoria Falls airport. Such Zimbabwean inefficiency and lack of care, on top of everything else, is unforgivable and alarming,” she said.

The elephants were eventually flown out to China on a Russian-registered Boeing 747.

Another source who asked to remain anonymous said, “There is much more to this than meets the eye.”

Indeed, here at the Zimbabwean we ran an article in May 2015 which implicated a Chinese national, Li Song, as one of those involved –

Yet another source who also asked to remain anonymous told The Zimbabwean that there is increasing evidence to support the theory that the involvement of one of Li Song’s business associates may end up being even more shocking, in this lucrative market of elephants and elephant products.

“We are looking closely into tying all of the pieces of this extensive puzzle together, including the involvement of some other Parks Authority and Ministry personnel, not yet publicly named,” our source declared.