Environment Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu Monday told CNN News that the shipping of the baby elephants to Chinese zoos was a better move than culling as the country is faced with a massive challenge of overstocking of the species.
He was responding to a recent report by the American news outlet which exposed cellphone footage which shows the baby elephants looking desperate in rows of steel cells stretching along a concrete floor in a China zoo, triggering concerns that the jumbos might be under severe stress due to inhabitable conditions.
However, Ndlovu said the exporting of the baby jumbos was "a project that we felt is much more sustainable and better than culling."
"Elephant populations are going down significantly, except for the Southern African region, and yet the world is trying to teach this very region how to conserve its wildlife. Really, the irony," he said.
He believes that the overpopulation was extensively degrading the habitat and affecting the biodiversity in the park.
Hwange National Park has a reported capacity of up to 15,000 elephants but currently holding more than 53,000 elephants.
The export triggered an uproar in the last few months with animal activists suggesting that the government was going against the CITES declaration on the export of elephants.
The CITES was taken at a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meeting in Geneva earlier this year, backed by a coalition of African nations and the European Union.
Members of the international treaty governing the international sale of animal products approved the ban.
Under the declaration, Zimbabwe will no longer be allowed to sell its elephants to China or anywhere else where African elephants don't naturally exist.
Ndlovu said there was nothing amiss with the trade deal with China.
He said Zimbabwean elephants are dotted around Europe and America and questioned whether it was because this time the trade happened between the country and China.
"You can go to zoos in Europe, in the US, in Australia, they have wildlife elephants from Zimbabwe. So I don't know whether this is because it's in China or what," he questioned.
He added that the country has followed procedures which ensure that animals that are destined for confinement get used to humans in close proximity.
He declined that the elephants are traumatised as has been in media reports.
"The trauma part, in my view, is just people reporting that way, that's why I wanted to give the background; that we don't just export, we make sure that these animals are acclimatized to the environment where they will be going. So I don't know where people are getting this traumatized part," Ndlovu said.
Chrispen Chikadaya, a senior inspector with the Zimbabwe National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ZNSPCA), said the elephants are stressed due to the environment which they find themselves in.
"They experience severe stress; they don't have the freedom they have to move around like they do in the wild. If you put them in cages, you have now taken away the wild in them,"
In June, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the country needed to sell wild elephants to fund its conservation efforts.
Back in May, the government revealed it had made $2.7 million from the sale of 90 elephants to Dubai and China.