Mugabe orders 300 giraffes, zebras and other animals to be shipped to national zoo to impress visitors during UN tourism summit
Hundreds of safari animals have been transported across Zimbabwe to a poaching-prone nature reserve ahead of a UN meeting to make the area appear populated.
The decision to move the animals from a private conservancy in southeastern Zimbabwe to Victoria falls is to ‘repopulate’ the preserve before the United Nations world tourism body’s meeting for the benefit of visiting delegates.
Giraffes, zebra, several types of antelopes and hundreds of wildebeest have been transported for over 400 miles, the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force of independent environmentalists said.
Controversial: President Robert Mugabe has moved hundreds of safari animals across Zimbabwe to impress UN delegates
The animals have been released in the five sq mile Zambezi National Park overlooking the Zambezi River and the Victoria Falls.
The decision to hold the six-day summit at Victoria Falls, on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, was met with raised eyebrows, as President Mugabe’s recent election victory was marred with accusations of vote rigging.
Durign the opening of the summit, The UN World Tourism Organization’s Secretary-general Taleb Rifai, praised the Zimbabwe elections as ‘civilised and smooth’.
UNWTO Organization also announced on Sunday that it has chosen Zimbabwe to lead its Commission for Africa, the continent-wide group for tourism development for the next two years.
The animals were moved 400 miles to Victoria Falls, pictured, to repopulate the area ahead of the UN world tourism board meeting
Herds: Giraffes, zebra, impala and hundreds of wildebeest as well as Africa’s largest antelope – the eland have been transferred
According to the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, 151 wildebeests, 100 impalas, 60 zebras, 25 eland and ten giraffes from the Save Valley Conservancy in Masvingo province have been transported to Victoria falls ahead of the summit.
‘Zimbabwe always claims to have an abundance of animals, so why is it necessary to move these animals to where the delegates of U.N. World Tourism Organization will be able to see them?,’ said Johnny Rodrigues, head of the trust.
The U.N. World Tourism Organization, meanwhile, advised participants at Victoria Falls that no conference documentation will be distributed on paper to save trees ‘in compliance with the United Nations system’s environmental protection policy.’
The six-day general assembly was formally opened by the two countries’ presidents, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Michael Sata of Zambia.
Mugabe told the opening dinner celebrations and tribal dancing that the meeting endorsed Zimbabwe as ‘a safe and secure destination for world tourists..
The two host nations automatically take over the presidency of the U.N. tourism organization during the summit, which is expected to be attended by about 1,200 delegates from governments and tourism enterprises worldwide.