HARARE – A decision by Zimbabwe to “donate” 10 endangered white rhinoceros to the Democratic Republic of Congo has sparked outrage.

The Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) says the donation is designed to “enhance the rhino regional conservation programme”.

The 10 rhinos are being translocated from Lake Chivero Park, Kyle Recreation Park and Matopos National Park, according to Zimparks Public Relations Manager, Tinashe Farawo.

David Coltart, a former Cabinet minister, described the plan as “disgusting”.

Environmentalist Gail Sandra Amyot called on President Emmerson Mnangagwa to intervene, writing in an open letter: “There can be very few people worldwide who are not aware of the plight of rhino everywhere. Every day more are lost to poaching. Zimbabwe has the best record, again worldwide, for the safeguarding of our rhino.

“Having worked for and supported our world class anti-poaching rangers, who commit themselves every day to their dangerous calling, including your own daughter, may I ask you, what must they really think of this current capture/donation/sale of white rhino from three different National Parks?”

Amyot said she was “reliably informed that with the capture of four adult females, one with a male calf at foot, in Matopos National Park, the breeding possibilities are jeopardised” and urged the export plan to be scrapped.

Zimparks maintained that the “donation” to the DRC was being done in accordance with local and international wildlife translocation protocols, “in particular the African Rhino Conservation Plan” which is meant to among other things expand the regional rhino range area.

“Zimbabwe is one of the important rhino range countries in the world and has seen steady population growth. This donation is meant to enhance the rhino regional conservation programme,” Zimparks said.

Zimbabwe has a white rhino population of between 300 and 370, compared with about 550 black rhino.

Lawyer Alex Magaisa said on Twitter: “Grew up being told rhinos were endangered species, in particular the white rhino. Did we grow our stock to the level that we can afford to be this generous? Just a donation?”