Zimbabwe said it began moving 500 elephants, a species gravely
threatened by poachers, from its largest national park because the
animals’ population has grown too large in an area that’s already
stricken by drought.
The elephants will leave Hwange National Park and move to the more
remote Chizarira sanctuary, the country’s third-largest park,
according to Environment Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kachingwe.
“We want to save our animals,” Muchinguri-Kachingwe said in an
interview Wednesday in the capital, Harare. “We’re saying: as opposed
to selling, let translocation take place.”
Zimbabwe has drawn criticism from conservationists for selling
elephants to China and announcing plans to lobby for the lifting of
the ban on ivory trade at the Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species, or CITES, which will begin Sept. 24 in neighboring
South Africa. The government says a controlled ivory-marketing system
would allow it to raise money to fight poaching.
Hwange National Park can hold about 18,000 elephants but has a
population of 45,000, and providing water to the animals is expensive,
Muchinguri-Kachingwe said. It costs $2,000 to move an elephant, she
The nation is grappling with an economic crisis and says its elephant
population, estimated at 84,000, is twice what can be supported by
available food and land. Southern Africa “carries three-quarters of
the world elephant population,” Muchinguri-Kachingwe said. “As a
region we will we have to take our own position in order to protect