Zimbabwe is set to receive some $2-million after nearly 100 elephants were sold to China and Dubai.
The money will be paid over a period of six years, said Zimbabwe’s wildlife agency in a statement on Wednesday, May 15th.
Parks and Wildlife Management Authority spokesperson Tinashe Farawo said Zimbabwe's elephants were overcrowding national parks. As a result, local herds were beginning to encroach on human settlements, destroying crops and posing a risk to human life.
"We have 84,000 elephants against a carrying capacity of 50,000," he said. "We believe in sustainable use of resources, so we sell a few elephants to take care of the rest.
Farawo said some 200 people have been killed in "human-and-animal conflict" over the last five years, "and at least 7,000 hectares of crop have been destroyed by elephants".
Another problem facing wildlife authorities is that their natural habitat is being depleted as a result of global warming. Recurrent droughts have also placed a massive strain on the overburdened national parks. This has forced elephant herds to seek food and water further afield.
Farawo said money from the legal sales would be allocated to anti-poaching projects, conservation work, research and welfare.
According to AFP, 93 elephants were safely airlifted to parks in China. An additional four elephants were successfully relocated into parks in Dubai between 2012 and 2018. The elephants were sold for between $13,500 and $41,500 each.
Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe have called for a global ban on elephant ivory trade to be relaxed due to the growing number of elephants in some regions.
Over the last 10 years, the elephant population of Africa has dropped by about 111,000 to 415,000. This is due largely to rampant ivory poaching according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).