Selling Elephants to Questionable Chinese Destinations Damages Country’s Tourism, Say Critics

By the time Zimbabwe’s new political winds of change reach its wildlife practices – the heart of its potential tourism industry – they appear to ebb to a light Chinese breeze. It appears to be business as usual, writes DON PINNOCK, and that’s not good news for elephants.

The signs were encouraging at first. Soon after his inauguration, Zimbabwe’s new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, endorsed a programme to save pangolins. He was quoted by his chief adviser as saying that, in light of the export of elephants, he would be reviewing conservation decisions and formulating a policy. He also pledged to conserve the country’s environment.

“Conservation and tourism go hand in hand,” he said, “and my government is committed to ensuring the safety of visitors and to working with partners to increase our conservation efforts to protect our natural world.”

Damien Mander, founder of the International Anti-Poaching Foundation, was enthusiastic. He said he believed the government was sincere in its desire to change: “Discussions with the new leadership leave me confident that Zimbabwe and its conservation policies are moving in the right direction, step by step.”

Two local reports with unconfirmed sources fanned the enthusiasm. In January Bulawayo24 News ran a…

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