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Zim denies Grace Mugabe ’wild animals export’ claims

The Zimbabwean embassy in China has reportedly denied reports that Zimbabwe exported a variety of wild animals to settle a Democratic Republic of Congo debt.

The Times newspaper reported on Monday that First Lady Grace Mugabe recently sent a "menagerie of safari animals to Chinese wildlife park to pay for military uniforms for the DRC".

At least 35 elephant calves, eight lions, a dozen hyenas and a giraffe were said to have been exported to China to settle a debt of boots and uniforms bought for the Congolese military force.

But according to Global Times, Zimbabwe denied the media reports, saying that the country "has not exported any game for purposes of settling some military debt or any debt at all".

President Robert Mugabe, 92, has had close ties with DRC President Joseph Kabila, 45, and his late father, Laurent, since 1997, when Zimbabwe sent troops there to help quash a rebellion support by Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi.

India Times reported that the elephants were flown out of the country in a Boeing 747 to the Chimelong safari park in Guangzhou.

An elephant was estimated to fetch between $40 000 and $60 000, the report said.

Conservationists reportedly said that there were fears the elephants could be used to start an ivory-farming operation in China.


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