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Zimbabwe to sell elephants to get funds for parks

Staff writer |
Zimbabwe is planning to sell elephants to China, France and the United Arab Emirates because Hwange National Park, the country's biggest game reserve, is running out of state funding.

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As many as 62 elephants can be sold for between $40,000 and $60,000 each and the revenue could help meet the $2.3 million annual running costs of the park, Director for Conservation at the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authorities, Geoffreys Matipano, said.

"We are pursuing it aggressively as part of conservation efforts because we have plenty of elephants here. We don't receive state funding and we rely on selling animals for our day to day operations, we are nowhere near what we want," Director Matipano said.

The money would also help fight poachers, Mr. Matipano said. Last year 293 elephants were killed by poachers using cyanide poisoning, and this year 139 have been killed. He said buyers from France were seeking 15 elephants, China 27 and UAE 15.

At 14,651 square kilometers (5,657 square miles), Hwange has 43,000 elephants against a carrying capacity of 15,000, Mr. Matipano said. Water is supplied for the animals through 80 bore hole pumps that use solar power or diesel to pump the groundwater to the surface at an annual cost of $500,000. Elephants can drink 200 liters (53 gallons) of water each a day and eat 300 kilograms (661 pounds).

"Obviously, these huge numbers puts pressure on us on how to manage them and also how to conserve the environment. It's a costly exercise to have these animals at one single place, because we spend a lot of money to provide the water for the animals," Matipano said.

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