Montreal, QC — 01/12/2018 — Johnny Rodrigues, founder and chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force had to flee Zimbabwe. After several death threats and a threatening visit from an official from the Chinese President Xi Jingping government.
Rodrigues been working undercover to investigate wildlife crimes in Zimbabwe for over thirty years. He and his team continue to take personal risks to make information available to conservationists. For months he wore a bullet-proof vest.
Today he vowed not to give up the fight to which he has dedicated his life – the preservation of African wildlife.
Top lawyers and PR people have volunteered to help him. ZCTF has consulted with New York lawyers to stop the importation of trophies to the USA by hunters.
Now, more than ever, ZCTF realizes that their non-profit organization will no longer be able to fight this battle alone. Rodrigues has invested 30 years of his life and all his financial resources in attempting to bring to the world's attention the urgent need for a global conservation task force.
'We need an independent team to monitor the animal trafficking. We need veterinarians and conservationists. When elephants are killed by cyanide poisoning the entire eco-system is destroyed. Local politicians are not held accountable. Hunting permits are easily bought.
The Director General of National Parks was sent on forced leave recently because 228kgs of Rhino horn and a couple of tons of ivory missing from the central stores was found in his possession.
'The plundering of African wildlife and forests by foreign countries must be stopped. It will continue until there is nothing left,' says Rodrigues.
Last week on the same day that China promised to ban ivory trade, a 'consignment' of baby elephants was illegally flown out of Zimbabwe by Ethiopian Air.
A photographer who was taking picture of the pitifully crying baby elephants was beaten and his $7000 camera was confiscated. During the capture (with bullhooks), a helicopter crashed while 'herding' the terrified creatures. ZCTF has photographs of the clearly emaciated baby elephants in a boma. The inhumane treatment of these animals who are sentient, highly intelligent beings is a stain on humankind.
These baby elephants are brutalized, shoved and kicked into cages and then loaded on to the aircraft. No veterinary care was asked for. They were literally 'rustled' from Zimbabwe.
Even though the loading of the baby elephants and their inhumane treatment was reported in all the major broadsheets in the UK and elsewhere in the world, there have been attempts by lackeys of the Zimbabwean government to deny that it happened.
When charged with the illegal looting of Zimbabwean resources, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said 'We will not apologize to anyone. Not even once, because they are our elephants…We will sell them more without hesitation.'
“Muchinguri-Kashiri has no knowledge of her portfolio. Her only credentials are that she was part of 'the struggle.' Her appointment makes a mockery of her office,' said Rodrigues. “Africa is being destroyed by inept wildlife management, corruption and the insatiable appetite the Chinese and other countries have for ivory and rhino horn. Will the West allow entire species to be wiped out?' says Rodrigues.
According to intelligence sources, China has ordered 130 baby elephants and 50 lions from Zimbabwe.
Thus far 8 lions, 4 giraffes, 8 hyenas, and 40 baby elephants have been sent to Chimelong Safari Park in China.
“The last few years have unmasked the scope and severity of the illegal wildlife trade in Africa,” says Rodrigues.
The ZCTF will be regularly releasing information and documentation about the alarming corruption that exists in the conservation industry.
'Animals are just another resource to be plundered. There is no concern for the species dying out or the cruelty inflicted on them,' says Rodrigues.
'Without global support the wild icons of Zimbabwe will be gone forever.'
Words by Jani Allan
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