Uproar over Tsholotsho elephant sales
November 21, 2021
Tsholotsho Rural District Council (RDC) has been accused of selling
elephants for a song to concession holders under the Government quota
Communities living near national parks are allocated a number of elephants
among other wildlife that they sell to develop their areas.
Tsholotsho District is allocated 25 elephants each year for sale and the
funds that are generated are used for community development.
It is said an elephant rakes in between US$40 000 and US$60 000 but the
local authority sold elephants for US$10 000 each.
The local authority claimed that the Covid-19 pandemic affected
international travel resulting in concession holders proposing a discount
so as to engage local hunters in the absence of those from abroad who
traditionally pay more for safari hunts.
It is alleged that Lodzi Hunters which has a concession in Tsholotsho South
and Mathuphula Safaris with a concession in Tsholotsho North requested a
discount for each elephant.
A concession holder has authority to hunt in a specified block for a period
Sources said Lodzi Hunters offered to pay US$10 000 per elephant while
Mathuphula Safaris offered US$23 000 per elephant.
A councillor who spoke on condition of anonymity said despite Mathuphula
Safaris offering US$23 000, some councillors pushed for both concessions to
buy the jumbos at the same price of US$10 000.
"So, they resolved that the elephants be sold for US$10 000 for both Lodzi
Safaris and Mathuphula Safaris," said a councillor.
A local chief, who spoke on condition of anonymity said of concern is that
even traditional leaders were not consulted when council decided to lower
the elephant prices yet they have a huge stake in the matter.
"The community should benefit from the elephants as they are the ones who
get attacked by the animals. In the past council, the four chiefs: Chief
Siphoso, Chief Tategulu and Chief Mathuphula and Chief Gampu were consulted
by council in the selling of elephants as 60 percent of the funds obtained
from selling of elephants would go to community while 40 percent goes to
council. But this time around we were never consulted.
We don't know what is happening in council yet in the past we were even
engaged to observe what was happening in council," said the chief.
He said eyebrows had been raised after some councillors bought cars after
the elephants were sold and the source of that income is unclear.
"It will be prudent that institutions such as the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption
Commission conduct investigations at council. We are aware that it's not
all the councillors who might be involved in underhand dealings. Since when
did council start offering so low prices on elephants? The council we know
would request for more money not to further discount a reduced price," he
Tsholotsho RDC chief executive officer Mr Nkululeko Sibanda defended the
council saying everything was done above board.
"When the first Level Four lockdown was promulgated by His Excellency, the
President, all travels were banned and the business people who do hunting
are from outside the country, Europe and by virtue of that there were no
flights coming to Zimbabwe.
A quota that you are given per year is not carried to the following year
and through consultation we agreed that we engage local hunters who cannot
pay as much as foreign hunters. That was tabled to council from relevant
committees up until a resolution was made," said Mr Sibanda.
He said it was resolved to sell elephants at a lowered price.
Mr Sibanda confirmed that they sold the Tsholotsho South elephants for
US$10 000 but added that for Tsholotsho North they went for US$23 000 each.
He said while there was a resolution for the sale of Tsholotsho North at
US$23 000 he could not state the rationale of selling those from Tsholotsho
South at US$10 000 as the decision was made before he became the CEO.
He said even though he was working at the local authority, he was not the
person at the helm when that decision was made.
He also said council was not obliged to consult chiefs on issues regarding
"The communities were consulted because we have Campfire communities from
those concession areas. We consulted the community through the councillors.
And a resolution is made by a full council. There is nothing that has
I have been in council for the past 18 to 20 years. I don't remember when
we were doing contracts for elephant hunting where chiefs were consulted.
What you are talking about I don't know," he said.
Tsholotsho RDC chairperson councillor Esau Siwela also said everything was
done above board.
Lodzi Hunters director Mr Paradzai Nemashakwe said the Covid-19 pandemic
forced his organisation to seek discounts for elephants.
"Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, clients have been hesitant to come to the
ground. And we had to make a special arrangement for those who forced
themselves to come to conduct business. We asked to pay US$10 000 to the
council for each elephant. Although, I don't know what is happening with
the other concession, I understand they also got a 50 percent discount, I
don't look at what they are getting," said Mr Nemashakwe.
"Last year and this year have been difficult, we still have elephants that
we are failing to sell. Our clients are like anyone else, they take
advantage of the situation and if there is drought you can see people
selling cattle at US$50.
That is the same with this situation. You cannot gamble and say you will
sell the elephants at a high price."
Tsholotsho District Development Coordinator Mr Aaron Gono said his office
was informed of the council's plan to offer discount on elephant sales.
"Yes, it was agreed that due to Covid-19 the two concessions requested that
the price of elephants be lowered from around US$40 000 to US$23 000 and it
was agreed at council level to accede to that. So, elephants were sold at
US$23 000. As an office we are not aware that elephants were further
discounted to US$10 000. Probably it was reached in our absence," said Mr
"And the unfortunate part is that council is not submitting minutes right
now. If they were submitting minutes to us and these minutes, we are
supposed to forward them to the Provincial Development Coordinator and we
are also supposed to submit them to our headquarters so that they can also
check, so that even the minister can give advice.
We have written quite a number of letters to the council chief executive
officer requesting for council minutes. That is where another challenge is
coming from. How can we advise them if we don't have this correspondence?"
He said although they have not received official complaints, they have also
observed that some councillors were seemingly amassing wealth after joining
"We have seen some councillors buying cars but as an office we cannot
relate it to anything. So, anything is possible, people might be getting
kickbacks or they might be using their own means. But we are seeing
lifestyle changes with some of these councillors," he said.
Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority spokesperson Mr Tinashe
Farawo said the authority does not regulate the prices of elephants.
"We do not have a standard figure that elephants can be sold for and at the
same time those with quotas are allowed to have a figure as long as there
has been a formal and official agreement, we have no minimum or maximum
amount," said Mr Farawo.