UPDATE 3: We are starting to see some price data come out of this story. According to the Times Live of South Africa:
However, conservationists, led by Johnny Rodrigues, the chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF), slammed the plan. They fear that many of the animals will not survive the long journey, let alone conditions in the impoverished communist state’s zoos.
In a telephone interview, Chadenga said the animals had already been paid for.
“The North Koreans paid for these animal species. This is a business deal, and we have an obligation to meet our side of the deal. For instance, the two baby elephants were sold for US$10,000 each. From the sale of the other animals, we might raise the other US$10,000.”
He dismissed concerns over conditions in Korean zoos.
“The North Koreans paid to facilitate a trip of our officers to determine the conditions in that country. On their return, they gave us a satisfactory report, and that is when the capturing of these animals started.”
He said Zimbabwe had an over-population of elephants . “We have more than 100000 elephants in our national parks. We will sell them to anyone if they approach us .”
Wildlife authorities in Zimbabwe on Wednesday defended the decision to sell two baby elephants and other animals to North Korea, and they said veterinary experts were satisfied that North Korea was equipped to care for them. The two 18-month-old elephants each cost $10,000. Officials said the other animals purchased by the North included breeding pairs of giraffes, zebras, antelopes, hyenas, monkeys and birds.
Vitalis Chadenga, the head of the wildlife department, called the deal “purely a business arrangement” for financially struggling Zimbabwe; he said it involved surplus species in the western Hwange National Park. But Johnny Rodrigues, the head of the independent Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, criticized the arrangement. “We understand North Korea does not have a good record in animal rights,” he said.
UPDATE 1: According to iol South Africa:
Zimbabwe is preparing to send wild animals to a North Korean zoo, state media said on Monday, a move likely to anger groups protesting at Pyongyang’s role in training an army unit accused of killing thousands of people.
The National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (NPWMA) said it was processing an application from North Korea to ship elephants, giraffes, zebras, warthogs, spotted hyenas and rock dassies to a zoo in the hermit state.
NPWMA director general Vitalis Chadenga told the state-owned Herald newspaper the national parks authority had sent experts to North Korea to verify whether the zoo was appropriate for the wild animals.
“This is a pure business arrangement with no directive from government … North Korea is paying for the animals as well as meeting the capture and translocation costs,” he said.
“We are satisfied that the recipients of the animals are suitably equipped to house and care for them,” said Chadenga, denying that the move was decreed by Mugabe.
Chadenga was not immediately available for direct comment.
ORIGINAL POST: According to the Guardian:
Zimbabwean president sending giraffes, zebras, baby elephants and other wild animals taken from a national park to zoo in communist state, conservation groups say.
Two by two, they were caught and lined up as an extravagant gift from one despotic regime to another.
According to conservationists, the Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, will send a modern-day ark – containing pairs of giraffes, zebras, baby elephants and other wild animals taken from a national park – to a zoo in North Korea.
The experts warned that not every creature would survive the journey to be greeted by Mugabe’s ally Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader.
There are particular fears that a pair of 18-month-old elephants could die during the long airlift.
Johnny Rodrigues, the head of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, said elephant experts did not believe the calves would survive the journey separated from their mothers.
The animals were being kept in quarantine in holding pens at Umtshibi camp in the park, he said.
Rodrigues added that officials opposed to the captures had leaked details to conservationists.
They reported that some areas of the 5,500 square mile park, the biggest in Zimbabwe, were being closed to tourists and photographic safari groups.
“We fear a pair of endangered rhino in Hwange will also be included,” he told the Associated Press.
He said conservation groups were trying to find out from civil aviation authorities when the airlift would begin, and were lobbying for support from international animal welfare groups to stop it.
Zoo conditions in North Korea, which is isolated by most world nations, did not meet international standards, he said. Two rhinos, a male called Zimbo and a female called Zimba, given to Kim by Mugabe in the 80s, died only a few months after their relocation.
At the same time, other rhinos given to Belgrade zoo in the former Yugoslavia died after contracting footrot in damp and snowy winter conditions.
Rodrigues said: “This new exercise has to be stopped. People under orders to do it are too scared to speak out.”
Read the full story here:
Conservationists protest as Robert Mugabe sends ‘ark’ of animals to North Korea