Hwange - Animal inspectors in Zimbabwe have intercepted a shipment of 11 hyenas from Hwange National Park that were about to be exported to a safari park in China.
Officials from the ZNSPCA apparently stopped the hyenas leaving on board an Air Zimbabwe plane for Johannesburg because they were allegedly "not satisfied with the state of the animals the permits and the containers did not conform to the requirements under CITES and IATA," the aviation trade body.
The ZNSPCA was not immediately available for comment.
The deal confirms that Zimbabwe is pursuing its controversial sale in live wild animals to long time ally China.
A shipment of 24 young elephants from Hwange to a safari park in southern China in July 2015 caused an international uproar.
It appears the hyenas may have injured themselves when they were transported inside special containers on a flatbed truck from Hwange National Park (where they were captured) to Harare on Thursday. The extent of their injuries is unclear. One hyena is believed to have escaped en route to the airport though it's not clear whether this happened in Hwange or in Harare.
The hyenas are now back in Hwange National Park, where they were captured. They have not been released back into the wild though: they are currently being held in an enclosure there.
Sources say that the hyenas were due to travel on from Johannesburg to the Middle East and then China.
They were destined for Hangzhou Safari Park in Hangzhou city in eastern China.
Environment Minister Oppah Muchinguri said in January that Zimbabwe would sell wild animals, including hyenas, elephants, lions and baboons to China “without hesitation”. She said it was better to sell off wildlife like elephants to countries that can care for them than to let them die from drought.
“We are not going to apologize to anyone,” she said.