Chinese buyers, middleman and corrupt officials reportedly duped Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority a staggering $13 Million in potential revenue, in shady baby elephants selling deals, The Standard reports.
International investigative journalist and filmmaker Karl Amman said the Zimbabwean government might have misled the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) into believing they sold 97 baby elephants to China and Dubai in the period 2012 to 2017 but did not mention the sale of 24 baby elephants in 2015 to Qinguyan Safari Park in China.
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Data gathered by Amman using invoices, shipment data etc actually show that Zimbabwe sold 141 elephants to China and Dubai in the period 2012 to 2017.
Zimbabwe might have misled CITES but it was reportedly duped by Chinese safaris and middlemen who bought the elephants for prices ranging between US$14 500 and US$32 000 each only to resell at between US$120 000 and US$128 000 each in China.
Said Amman in his report:
Irrespective of the numbers sold, what is equally interesting is that the revenue declared by Zimparks is around US$32 000 per elephant. The issue here is that we have ample evidence that the end purchasers paid a lot more than US$32 000 per elephant.
Regarding the last 32 elephants exported to Longmont Safari Park, 11 were further sold to (Ordos City Longsheng Wildlife Park Company Limited), one of the biggest traditional Chinese medicine and tiger wine producers, and one was killed in a fight with another elephant.
The importers declared that they paid US$120 000 per elephant. This price is declared in a number of customs and importation documents.
Overall, it is clear that source country Zimbabwe ended with only 25% of what the end purchasers paid. How is the remaining 75% shared? There are transport costs, and then all the bribes, kickbacks and commissions to a range of players.
In the case of Zimbabwe, these include well-known Chinese brokers. There is also reliable information that some Zimparks board officials cashed in, and there are two brokers/agents listed in China who would have added their margins.
If 140 elephants were sold for US$432 000 each and the price collected from the end purchasers was averaged US$125 000, we are talking of some US$13 020 000 missing, which would have made a difference on many fronts,
Last year there was a public outcry when 33 baby elephants from Hwange National Park were sold to China. ZimParks is however battling an elephants overpopulation at one point ZimParks considered birth control for the jumbos to control the population.
More: The Standard