Zimbabwe elephants 'shot for barbecue'

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The Independent Online

At least nine elephants were shot for barbecue meat to celebrate Zimbabwe's 25 years of independence last month, say angry conservationists.

At least nine elephants were shot for barbecue meat to celebrate Zimbabwe's 25 years of independence last month, say angry conservationists.

Four elephants, part of a herd which is accustomed to people and easy to approach, were shot by Zimbabwean National Parks scouts in full view of tourists near a game park bordering Lake Kariba, according to the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF). It said the other elephants were shot by a farmer at the request of the local rural council bordering the Mana Pools National Park in the Zambezi Valley.

There has been widespread slaughter of wildlife in Zimbabwe since farm invasions began in 2000. During the run-up to the 31 March election, large amounts of other game were also shot for meat on the orders of government officials.

"Despite all our efforts to prevent the elephants from being shot, we could not have predicted that the guardians of our wildlife, National Parks, would go in and shoot them," said Johnny Rodrigues, ZCTF's chairman.

He said the scouts were told to kill elephants in a licensed hunting area. But when they ran out of time they went to the Kariba herd, which were "almost semi-tame". National Parks officials were not available for comment.

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