Footage has emerged showing young wild elephants being captured in Zimbabwe in preparation for what is thought to be their sale to Chinese zoos.
The video shows part of the legal, yet secretive operation where five elephants were caught in Hwange national park by workers at Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, reports The Guardian, which was handed clip.
Shot on 8 August, the footage shows a group of men rushing into the bush before strapping up a calf sedated by tranquillisers fired from a helicopter.
Later a young female elephant is shown being kicked and smacked in the head by workers trying to force her back into a trailer, while another pulls her tail.
A total of 14 elephants were captured, according to The Guardian. The officials had apparently intended to take as many as 40 elephants before a helicopter crash forced them to abandon the operation.
A source told the newspaper the elephants were now in the holding pens waiting to be shipped abroad.
The buyer for the giant mammals is allegedly a Chinese businessman associated with a similar case that saw 11 wild hyenas taken from the wild and found in an horrific state in a truck at Harare international airport.
Elisa Allen, Director at PETA, told The Independent: "It's an inexcusably hideous, archaic practice for certain zoos like those in China – where no animal-protection laws exist – to ignore the emotions, family relationships, and need to be free that all wild animals share by still cruelly capturing them for display.
"They are paying people to subject these wild beings to a terrifying ordeal, which is incomprehensible to them, in what is just the beginning of a bleak, diminished existence in captivity.
"Elephants are hugely sensitive and highly intelligent, and in nature, they roam vast distances every day with their closely knit families – a way of life that zoos can never, ever come close to replicating, as many of their administrators already admit. Anyone wanting to help these – and other – animals can start by avoiding all zoos."
Cites, the international body governing the elephant trade, stipulates that the sale of them must benefit their conservation in the wild.
Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Zimbabwe's environment minister, said last year that the sale of elephants was needed to pay for national parks in the country.
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