Zimbabwe wants to sell its wild elephants

By Christopher Brito

/ CBS News

Trophy hunting: Killing or conservation?

Zimbabwe wants to sell its wild elephants to reduce an overabundance of the creatures in the African country. The plan was discussed during a summit earlier this week put on by the African Union and United Nations Environment Program.

The country's tourism minister Prisca Mupfumira told Bloomberg on Tuesday that Zimbabwe is planning to sell its elephants to Angola and any other interested country.

"We have no predetermined market for elephant sales, we are open to everyone who wants our wildlife," she said.

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Mupfumira said Zimbabwe had an "excess" of 30,000 elephants, while some 84,000 elephants are roaming the country, according to Zimbabwe's parks authority.

She explained that Angola is seeking to reintroduce the animals to areas that were devastated by its 27-year civil war that ended in 2002.

"The main problem is landmines in Angola, so we are trying to assist them by having a fund to deal with those before we send the animals."

An African elephant is pictured in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. Getty

Zimbabwe sees the market for ivory. The country received nearly $3 million after selling 97 young elephants to Dubai and China over a six-year span, Mupfumira revealed earlier this year, according to state newspaper, The Chronicle. The revenue was to be used for conservation efforts.

Ultimately for Mupfumira, it should be up Zimbabwe on how it wants to the elephants.

"We must allow free movement, and we must also decide — its our own resource," she said.

Zimbabwe along with Zambia, Angola, Namibia and Botswana convened in Victoria Halls to discuss how to handle its wildlife ahead of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITIES) in August. Collectively, the nations have half of the world's elephant population — and are looking to lift a ban enacted by CITIES on the ivory trade. Zimbabwe president Emmerson Mnangagwa reportedly told the summit his country is sitting on a $600 million chest of ivory.

First published on June 26, 2019 / 4:00 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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