I had no idea that this happens too.How animals are used to pay off debts incurred by humans:
A bizarre story has recently come out of Zimbabwe. Grace Mugabe, the politically powerful wife of the ageing president Robert Mugabe, has come up with a plan to settle a debt to China with 35 young elephants, eight lions, 12 hyenas and a giraffe. The debt was incurred in 1998 when Zimbabwe sent troops and bought equipment from China to help President Laurent Kabila in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Kabila needed help fighting off a rebel movement backed by Uganda and Rwanda.
Zimbabwe’s use of live wildlife as a commodity is nothing new. And it’s not the only country to do so. It is quite common for southern African states to sell what they consider to be surplus animals to zoos or safari parks outside Africa.
In January 2016, the US Fish and Wildlife Service gave the go ahead for Swaziland to export 18 elephants to zoos in the US. Between 2010 and 2014 an estimated 500 white rhinos and 20 elephants were exported from African range states.
Animals are also exported to restock parks or reserves elsewhere on the continent. Zimbabwe’s Bubye Valley Conservancy, for example, is arranging to send 8-10 lions to Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia. The aim is to help them re-establish prides in areas depleted of lions.
The sale of live animals is highly controversial, but not illegal as long as rules established by CITES are followed. These require that live exports only be between two CITES members and that both parties’ management authorities for CITES ensure that the export permits are valid.
The authorities need to ensure that “the export of the animals would not be detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild” and would be taken to “to appropriate and acceptable destinations”.
But the removal of young elephants from their herds – as happened in Zimbabwe – is highly damaging to the animals and to the herd as a whole. This form of removal has been called a “a mad act of cruelty”.
The Zimbabwean embassy in China has denied the reports of the sale and there has been no word from the environment minister in Harare. The story will be embarrassing for China at a time when it is basking in praise over its announcement of a coming ban on ivory working and retail sales.