*Dear Readers: Please note that this recently posted article had a
nonworking link to it. It has been replaced with a functional link. *
Halt export of elephants, critics demand (Namibia)
Ellanie Smit, The Namibian Sun
October 1, 2021
WINDHOEK: Conservationists and wildlife trade experts from non-governmental
organisations (NGOs) across the globe are calling for a halt on Namibia’s
controversial capture and export of elephants.
This after the environment ministry recently announced that it will capture
57 elephants for sale to undisclosed buyers, adding that 42 of them will be
News of the auctioning of 170 elephants broke in December 2020 and caused
an uproar. Despite the opposition, the ministry went ahead, selling 57
elephants for N$5.9 million in January
Namibia recently confirmed to the Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species (Cites) that its trade in live African elephants will
take place under Article III of the convention and that it will fully
comply with its requirements.
In a new statement issued by Foundation Franz Weber (FFW), it said
according to a number of conservation NGOs, the exports intended by Namibia
are most likely headed to zoos and parks outside of Africa and this may be
in contravention of international rules under Cites.
The environment ministry has been tight-lipped on who the international
buyers of the elephants are or even to what countries the elephants will be
“The NGOs have appealed to the authorities in Namibia to urgently halt
exports and have asked the Cites secretariat to withdraw any statement that
appears to endorse Namibia’s intentions,” FFW said.
The organisation said, technically, Namibia is only allowed to export live
elephants to conservation programmes inside of Africa, according to the
terms of the listing of their elephant population under Cites. However, the
country is using a contested legal interpretation of these terms to justify
sending wild, live-caught elephants to captive facilities outside of their
natural range, it said. “This interpretation is highly controversial and
sets a dangerous precedent for the future protection of wild elephants from
the impact of international trade.”
According to FFW, the Cites animals committee has also expressed concerns
about this divisive issue and the standing committee will examine the
legality of Namibia’s interpretation as it applies to exports of live
elephants at its next meeting in 2022.
“The Cites secretariat issued a statement on 8 September all but endorsing
the planned exports from Namibia – only to revise it a few days later after
criticism from several parties to Cites and concerned NGOs.
“The secretariat’s updated statement still fails to clarify that it is not
endorsing these exports. These same NGOs now ask the secretariat to retract
its statement altogether until the legality of this trade has been fully
examined by the standing committee and the parties.”
FFW said between 2010 and 2019, African countries exported 194 wild caught
elephants, the majority of which came from Zimbabwe, followed by Namibia.
At least 22 of them are alleged to now be dead. The biggest importer was
China, followed by the US.
“What Namibia proposes – using a dubious interpretation of the listing
rules to create a loophole that suits their purpose – risks driving a coach
and horses through the underlying principles of the convention and the
authority of decisions agreed by the parties.
“The rules regarding the export of live elephants from Namibia, by any
rational reading, could not be clearer. To suggest otherwise is dangerously
disingenuous. These proposed exports must be halted,” Dr Mark Jones, head
of policy at Born Free Foundation, said.