African elephants were tragically moved to the endangered and critically endangered species list earlier this year. Now, the country of Zimbabwe, which has the second-largest elephant population in the world, is planning to allow its elephants to be hunted for profit.
After being economically crippled during the COVID-19 pandemic, Zimbabwe was struggling financially and in need of the funding lost with the decreased tourism.
Now that restrictions are starting the loosen, the country is hoping to draw tourists and revenue back in by selling “hunting rights” for up to 500 endangered elephants.
According to CNN, a spokesperson for the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, Tinashe Farawo, said, “We eat what we kill. We have a budget of about $25 million for our operations which is raised, partly, through sports hunting, but you know tourism is as good as dead at the moment due to the coronavirus pandemic.”
According to CNN, hunters will have to pay $10,000 up to $70,000 for each elephant killed, depending on the size of the animal.
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While that revenue might help the country meet its financial goals, it could also be devastating for conservation efforts.
Speaking with CNN, Simiso Mlevu with the Center for Natural Resource Governance is hoping the country retracks the plan before permits are sold. They said:
“We strongly condemn trophy hunting, a practice that agitates wild animals and escalates human-wild life conflicts.
It is almost certain that surviving families of wildlife families that witness the senseless gunning down of their family members mete out vengeance on the hapless local villagers.”
Despite the cry from conservationists and the potential long-term consequences of killing the elephants, Farawo stands firm in his position and even spoke out against the criticism. According to the news outlet, he said, “How do we fund our operations, how do we pay our men and women who spend 20 days in the bush looking after these animals?” Those who are opposed to our management mechanism should instead be giving us the funding to manage better these animals.”
As of now, the permits are set to be released “soon” and we can only hope that an alternative plan to boost tourism and drive revenue to the country comes to fruition before the already endangered elephants begin to be slaughtered.Whizzco