Is Zimbabwe loading animals two-by-two to send to North Korea?
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2010:
HARARE–“We were recently informed that two of every species
of animal in Hwange National Park are to be sent to a zoo in North
Korea,” charged Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force chair Johnny
Rodrigues in a May 13, 2010 e-mail alert.
“According to the report,” Rodrigues said, “the animals
will include two 18-month-old elephant calves. It is believed that
this is a gift from Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe, to Kim
Jong-il, president of North Korea.
“Capture and spotting teams have been seen in the park,”
Rodrigues continued, “and there have been reports of armed men
standing around key waterholes waiting for the animals to appear so
they can radio the information back to the capture teams. There have
also been reports of National Parks vehicles towing cages around.
“A National Parks informant has confirmed,” Rodrigues said,
“that the animals are being kept in quarantine in bomas at Umtshibi
in Hwange National Park, and will leave for Korea very soon.
Elephant experts think there is little chance that the two young
elephants will survive the trip.”
Mugabe has courted Kim Jong-il with gifts of animals before.
Recalled David Smith, Johannesburg correspondent for The Guardian,
“Two rhinos, a male called Zimbo and a female called Zimba, given
to Kim by Mugabe in the 1980s, died a few months after their
Vitalis Chadenga, director general for national parks, told
ANIMAL PEOPLE freelance correspondent Barnabas Thondhlana that Mugabe
was not involved. “I can tell you that the president or even the
minister is not involved in this, there is nothing like a
presidential decree here at parks,” Chadenga said. “But I can
confirm that we received an application from the Democratic Republic
of North Korea,” Chadenga added, “and we are still processing the
“Of the animals requested, only the two elephants are
endangered. The others, like giraffes, zebras, and warthogs, are
not endangered according to the Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species,” Chadenga said. Chadenga said experts had been
sent to North Korea to assess the new home for the animals and that a
report on their findings was being compiled.
“The move is likely to stoke fires in Matabeleland and
Midlands,” assessed Thondhlana, “where the Gukurahundi massacres
are still an emotive subject. North Korean instructors trained the
Zimbabwean 5th Brigade, blamed for the murder of more than 20,000
civilians in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces between 1982 and
1987. Last month, activists from Matabeleland and Midlands protested
against plans by government to bring the North Korean national soccer
team to Zimbabwe for a training camp ahead of the World Cup in South
Africa next month. The visit is now uncertain.”
U.S. President Barack Obama described the Gukurahundi
killings when on November 23, 2009 he presented the Robert F.
Kennedy Human Rights Award to Zimbab-wean human rights activist
Magodonga Mahlangu and Women of Zimbabwe Arise co-founder Jenni
In Kenya, public opposition rallied by Youth for
Conservation in 2005 halted a comparably politically motivated
attempt by the Chiang Mai Night Safari Park in Thailand to buy
elephants and more than 300 other animals from Kenya. The deal was
reportedly brokered by acting Kenyan tourism minister Raphael Tuju,
who accompanied then-Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki on a state visit to
Thailand. Josphat Ngonyo, founder of Youth for Conservation, later
formed and now heads the African Network for Animal Welfare. The
ANAW mission includes helping to empower animal advocates throughout