Harare: First, they sold their elephants to China. Now, the Zimbabwe government has placed an ad in its state-run newspaper asking members of the public — at least those who have the money and space — to buy some more of the country’s wild animals.
The reason is a devastating, relentless El Nino-induced drought that has left as many as four million Zimbabweans in need of food aid and ravished the country’s natural resources, decimating crops and drying up water sources. At least 16,500 cattle have died.
Zimbabwe is home to 10 national parks, one of which claimed Cecil the lion, a beloved black mane lion that was killed by a U.S. dentist last year. The parks, filled with giraffe, buffalo, zebra, lion, cheetah and elephants, draws both tourists and poachers.
Last year, the Zimbabwean government drew scrutiny and the ire of conservationists when it began selling elephants to China. The sale, government officials admitted, would reduce the booming elephant population but also raise money so the country could buy things like anti-poaching and surveillance technology.
Officials told CNN the money from this sale would be used to benefit the animals, and the reduced number of wildlife would unburden grasslands and water resources until the next rainy season.
“We hope the funds will be used to buy food and secure water facilities for distressed animals,” Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri told CNN.
The ad, placed by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, called on members of the public “with the capacity to acquire and manage wildlife” to step forward and apply, according to news reports.
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