Zimbabwe parks authority to sell animals due to drought

African elephants seen in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.

Story highlights

  • The parks agency is asking potential buyers what their intended use for the animals is
  • The move is due to a severe drought

Harare, Zimbabwe (CNN)A severe drought has prompted Zimbabwe's national parks and wildlife agency to put some of the animals in its reserves up for sale.

The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) said in a statement Monday it's planning to "destock its parks estates."
    The agency didn't say what kind, how many or exactly how it intends to sell the animals that have made parks in Zimbabwe a long-time tourist draw.
    The statement indicated that Zimparks intends to sell to private wildlife reserves, but conservation groups will be watching closely to see if any animals appear destined for hunting concessions.
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    The world reacted with outrage when an American hunter killed Cecil the lion on the edge of a Zimbabwean reserve last July, but it seems that any applicants wanting to purchase animals will be thoroughly checked out.
    Zimparks asked those interested to "provide the following information about the habitat which they intend to put the acquired animals: name and address of property, size of property, ownership of the property, description of current land use, intended use for the acquired animals and existing infrastructure e.g. fences, water availability, roads, fireguards, protection/law enforcement capacity and management."
    The national parks authority said the the sale would help preserve grassland and water resources for the remaining animals before the next rainy season.
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    "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.
    National parks in the region have historically sold animals to private entities to remove excess game or to get high-value wildlife like rhino into areas more difficult to access by poachers.
    The southern African region is suffering from a harsh drought made more severe by the longest El Niño weather pattern in decades, which could affect up to 50 million people, according to the World Food Programme.