A President Plans to Celebrate His Birthday by Eating Elephant and Lion Meat

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s decadent celebration includes slaughtering and serving some of the country’s imperiled wildlife.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe; an African elephant. (Photos: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters; David Fettes/Getty Images)


Feb 18, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Taylor Hill is an associate editor at TakePart covering environment and wildlife.

Some of Africa’s most iconic animals are being plucked from Zimbabwe’s rugged plains to be killed and cooked up for President Robert Mugabe’s birthday celebration.

Menu items include two elephants, two buffalo, two sables, five impalas, and one trophy lion, all worth about $120,000 and donated by a wealthy farmer, according to a report in the Zimbabwe Chronicle.

The slaughter is part of Mugabe’s lavish 91st birthday celebration, dubbed the “21st February Movement,” with a guest list numbering 20,000.

Tendai Musasa, the Victorian Falls farmer who is donating the animals for the dinner, told the Chronicle he is working with wildlife officials to have them killed in the days leading up to the event.

“This is our way of supporting the function and to ensure a celebratory mood in our community as well,” Musasa told the paper.

The move has angered conservationists, who are still fuming over Zimbabwe’s practice of selling the country’s elephants—including babies—to zoos in China and France.

“I am not in favor of anyone donating wild animals for a celebration or for any other reason,” Johnny Rodrigues, chair of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, told The Guardian. “Every time there is a celebration or on independence day, several elephants and buffalo are killed for the celebrations. This is totally unethical and should not be allowed.”

Zimbabwe’s elephant population dropped by almost half between 2007 and 2012—from 84,000 to 47,000—a similar decline to that of elephant numbers worldwide. The main reason? Poaching for the animals’ ivory tusks, which are mainly sold to China.

Lions aren’t faring much better. Habitat loss and poaching have halved the big cat’s numbers in just the past three decades. Biologists believe that at the present rate of killing, both animal species could be extinct in 20 to 40 years.

The president’s decadent party details emerged at the same time a national survey was released showing that half of Zimbabwe’s adults make less than $100 per month, and 44 percent of the population had to skip a meal in 2014 because they couldn’t afford food.

In previous years, the presidential birthday party was rumored to cost around $1 million.