The animals appear ‘wide eyed’, defensive, and show obvious signs of stress in the footage, according to campaign group Human Society International.
Baby elephants brutally captured
The elephants are kept in enclosures after hunters using helicopters separate the youngsters from their herds, leaving them ‘disoriented, exhausted and subdued’.
The young are then darted and loaded on to trucks, with helicopters buzzing around to stop their mothers, who are extremely protective, trying to save them.
‘It can take several attempts to successfully part the young from their mothers, who are extremely protective,’ a source told The Times.
Human Society International has called on Zimbabwe to stop the ‘barbaric’ practice of separating young elephants from their herds.
Footage obtained by the group shows the elephants frantically pacing around pens inside Hwange National Park, showing signs of distress.
Those signs include dark streaks down the side of their faces as they leak hormones from their temporal glands, and adopting splayed-ear defensive postures.
Under Robert Mugabe’s leadership, Zimbabwe regularly exported animals in order to settle debts.
When deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa seized power in 2017 it was hoped the practice might stop, but this new video footage suggests otherwise.
Audrey Delsink, Humane Society International’s Africa wildlife director and an elephant biologist, said: ‘The capture of baby elephants from the wild is barbaric, and captivity will be a life sentence of suffering.
‘Video footage shows that these young animals are already displaying stress behaviour after being ripped away from their mothers and bonded family group, and are terrified.
‘Calves normally remain closely bonded to their natal family groups; females never leave their families whilst males only leave the herd at 12 -15 years of age.
‘With no adult females to look to for reassurance, guidance and learning, one can only imagine the youngsters’ distress. Almost all of the baby elephants that have been shipped to China in 2012 have already died a horrible death.
‘Zimbabwe continues to exploit its wildlife to the highest bidder with no meaningful oversight. Recognising elephants as sentient beings, South Africa has banned the capture of elephants from the wild for captivity.
‘Zimbabwe must urgently follow suit to redeem itself.’