Live Elephant Herd Exported to China, Destined for Lives in Captivity

Image: Facebook
Image: Facebook

Earlier this month a large herd of elephants was airlifted from their native home in Zimbabwe and flown to China — destined for lives in captivity.

Although it is legal, the exportation of live elephants has been an ongoing controversy due to their unique physiological dispositions and the inherent physical risks imposed by long-distance travel.

A representative of Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife formally announced their most recent intent to transport more than 30 elephants out of the Hwange National Park. This announcement was made under the false pretense of moving them to Zimbabwe’s nearby Chizarira National Park with the purpose of diversifying the declining herd. Conversationists, however, know these animals are doomed to a different fate. 

Image: Facebook
Image: Facebook

Chunmei Hu, an advocate for the Endangered Species Fund in China reported previous incidents of wild elephant transportation from Zimbabwe to China just last year. Likely destinations for this most recent shipment are the Shanghai Wild Animal Park and the Yunnan Wild Animal Park.

Elephants are uniquely social animals and their livelihood depends on meeting both physiological and biological needs. Young elephants in particular are vulnerable to emotional distress and a number of sub-adults were reported among those in the group bound for exportation.

In addition to behavioral and mental impacts, the transportation of live elephants poses serious physical concerns. Conservationists have been made aware of widespread cruel confinement methods and an indisputably high mortality rate. Photos of elephants with injuries and in poor body conditions have circulated around the web.

The African Elephant Coalition seeks to end the movement of elephants out of their natural habitats and is supported by many nations but Zimbabwe remains excluded. 

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