Zimbabwe conservation efforts with assistance from China ?

6. September 2018

Even though it has not been too long since Zimbabwe sold live elephant youngsters to China for ending up in zoological gardens all over the country, Chinese assistance to Zimbabwe’s conservation efforts will hopefully limit the trade of live exotic animals. Chinese intervention against poaching shows positive results, according to an article in China Magazine of August 28, 2108. The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority (ZimParks) confirmed that conservation in the country has been supported by Chinese assistance with anti-poaching efforts.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) praised Zimbabwe’s recent efforts. During the first quarter of 2018, poaching has been limited to one elephant and one rhino incident. The recent commitment to a strong anti-poaching program has been made possible with the assistance of the China and Zimbabwe Wildlife Foundation by providing  vehicles, technology and personnel. The personnel includes Chinese citizens living in Zimbabwe.

African elephant mother with two daughters cooling off at water hole. Photo credit: Fair Oaks / shutter stock


” The foundation has successfully trained staff and mobilized resources for ZimParks. The country’s national parks have faced a myriad of challenges, including undercapitalisation and outdated infrastructure”, says Michingurin Kashiri, Zimbabwe’s Minister of the Environment, Water and Climate. Li Song, the founder of the foundation added that “China is very serious and committed when it comes to protecting wild life. In 2015 , the Chinese government donated $ 2.3 million worth of equipment to ZimParks for preservation work.” Equipment provided by the foundation included a boat for controlling the Zambezi river and a light aircraft to monitor the 2,196 square kilometers of Mana Pools National Park, the second largest game reserve in the country, a Unesco World Cultural Heritage site. The park’s dense vegetation is mostly known for its elephant and rhino populations.

With the help of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Blue Sky Rescue organisation has also been active in the development of anti-poaching initiatives in Zimbabwe. Envisioned is the construction of a permanent site to provide technical support and accommodations for volunteers to carry out sustainable anti poaching activities.   Additional material donated by the Chinese government includes equipment such as SUVs trucks, graders, tractors, mobile radios teens and ranger uniforms for use in th eMana Pools and Hwange national parks.

Baby elephants playing in safety, surrounded by their family clan. Photo credit: Steve Bower / shutterstock

Unfortunately these positive efforts with Chinese assistance have not yet eliminated the export of young elephants to China, according to an article published just 2 days ago by Jane Dalton in The Independent. During the past two years, China is believed to have imported as many as 100 juvenile African elephants from Zimbabwe, and as imports of life  elephants from Zimbabwe are legal, the anti poaching help to Zimbabwe by Chinese foundations suddenly appears to work against elephant conservation.  If anti-poaching efforts are being used to sustain wild elephants herds in order to export them live to the brutal tourist trade in China, China should immediately make such imports illegal and begin to crack down on these illegal activities in Zimbabwe and China’s south-east Asian borders.