Tough to Stomach: Wildlife to be Slaughtered for Mugabe Celebration in Zimbabwe

Elephants, lions, buffaloes, impalas…these are animals you would expect to see freely roaming the plains of Africa; not listed on a birthday party dinner menu. 

We’re horrified to learn that two elephants, two buffaloes, two sables, one lion and five impala will be slaughtered “in honor of” the notorious Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s 91st birthday celebration later this month. 

A report by the Chronicle said a prominent Zimbabwean farmer had pledged to donate the wild animals, which are worth a combined $120,000, towards the president’s birthday that will be held on 28 February,at the Elephant Hills Resort, a luxury hotel near Victoria Falls. 

We wholeheartedly agree with the chairperson of Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF), Johnny Rodrigues, who gave a statement saying he was not in favor of anyone donating wild animals for a celebration or any other reason. “They have been doing this for years now. Every time there is a celebration…several elephants and buffalo are killed for the celebrations. This is totally unethical and should not be allowed,” Rodrigues was quoted as saying. 

The slaughtering and eating critically endangered wild animals is one of the worst ways to contribute to any type of celebration, especially one occurring in a country that is facing extreme environmental damage, a suffering economy, and increased poverty levels. It is unfortunate that this act of cruelty is something many have come to expect from Mugabe, whose violent and oppressive regime has run a once prosperous country into the ground, and who has a reputation for selling tons of illegal ivory on the black-market to pay for guns and other weapons. 

Recently, we also became involved with the protection of elephants in Zimbabwe and joined with the ZCTF to petition the U.S. government to step in to prevent 22 baby elephants from being shipped out of Zimbabwe to China and the UAE.  Both the exportation of elephants and now the slaughter of them for Mugabe’s party celebrations comes on the heels of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) suspending the importation of sport-hunted African elephant trophies taken in Zimbabwe because the agency found that the killing of elephants for sport does not enhance the survival of the species in the wild. 

“There is a war on wildlife occurring in Africa, and time is running out not only for African elephants, but also rhinos, lions, and leopards” says Michael Harris, FoA Wildlife Law Program Director.  



Cheers to the new animal journalism website, The Daily Pitchfork


“Top 10 Awkward Pet Photos”

“Owls Throw a Dance Party”

These days, it sometimes feels like the only animal stories that are getting attention online are ones with titles like those above. 

Not exactly hard-hitting news coverage. 

That’s why we’re cheering on the new animal journalism website, The Daily Pitchfork, which was launched just last month and aims to draw attention to the way the media presents and portrays animal issues. 

According to the site’s mission statement, “Accurate animal journalism is journalism that follows clear and proper guidelines, relies on credible sources, presents accurate facts in the most appropriate language, embraces real science and data, and includes a range of perspectives, including those of animals themselves. These qualities are fundamental to the media’s mission and, as such, they are central to ours.”

Created by writer and journalist (and a previous graphic designer for FoA…see ad below), Vickery Eckhoff, and writer and historian, James McWilliams, The Daily Pitchfork has hit the ground running by turning a watchful eye on ad campaigns, nonprofits and stories published by news organizations like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal as well as releasing in-depth investigations of their own. 

Most recently, The Daily Pitchfork has published part two in a series by Eckhoff examining the true cost to taxpayers of allowing ranchers to freely graze cattle and sheep on public lands and the disastrous effects it is having on the environment and America’s wildlife. Using a newly updated economic analysis, Costs and Consequences: The Real Price of Livestock Grazing on America’s Public Lands, Eckhoff addresses the very large difference between what public lands ranchers pay in fees to the US government and what public lands grazing costs taxpayers every year….an issue that most of the public is currently unaware of. 

The site also examines advertising techniques and public perception of animal welfare groups. Recently McWilliams addressed the question, “does HSUS, in its ceaseless quest to improve living conditions for animals within factory farms, justify and perpetuate the ongoing existence of those farms?” as well as an opinion piece examining Chipotle’s animal welfare rhetoric as an advertising ploy to increase sales. 

As a nonprofit that is completely dedicated to ending the exploitation of animals everywhere, we’re thrilled to see a news site that is fully focused on “showcasing the best animal journalism, constructively critiquing the rest, and providing the media with valuable resources to foster the most effective coverage” and we look forward to reading their future articles and investigations.