The animals’ natural habitat has been depleted by climate change, he added, while recurrent droughts have added to strain on the overburdened national parks, forcing the pachyderms to seek food and water further afield.
Farawo said money from the legal sales was allocated to anti-poaching projects, conservation work, research and welfare.
According to the Zimbabwe Chronicle newspaper, 93 elephants were safely airlifted to parks in China and four to Dubai between 2012 and 2018, They were sold in a price range of between $13,500 and $41,500 each.
Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe have called for a global ban on elephant ivory trade to be relaxed due to the growing number of elephants in some regions.
But over the past decade, the population of elephants across Africa has fallen by about 111,000 to 415,000, largely due to poaching for ivory, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).