Faced with skyrocketing inflation, a tanking economy, and incredible political instability, the government of Zimbabwe is turning to elephant meat in a desperate attempt to feed hungry soldiers.
A senior officer in the Zimbabwe Defence Forces told ZimOnline that Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority struck a deal resulting in the slaughter of elephants to feed soldiers at army barracks across the country. The officer, who remained anonymous, said there were six elephant carcasses delivered to military barracks last week and that the delivery was a welcome relief.
The ZDF has been instrumental in keeping embattled President Robert Mugabe in power, despite his having lost in a general election to the main opposition party of Morgan Tsvangirai in April of 2008. But the economic turmoil in Zimbabwe is putting considerable strain on a government that had little money to effectively govern in the first place.
Jonny Rodrigues of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force told the BBC that the ZDF actually began feeding elephant meat to their soldiers back in June. that army contracts to supply beef to feed soldiers had been canceled and the use of elephant meat had been stepped-up because “It is cheaper and easier to use elephant meat.”
Zimbabwe’s elephant population is estimated to be somewhere between 60,000 and 100,000 and the sanctioned thinning of elephant herds is commonplace. Official government estimates are on the higher end of that range and they justify their culling practices as a necessary part of managing a healthy ecosystem.
The ruling government in Zimbabwe has yet to comment on the issue.
Image: kevinzim via flickr under a Creative Commons License