By Dr Adam Cruise
On the 11th August 2021, Namibia’s Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT) issued a press release stating that it will capture 57 wild African elephants. It had sold them to interested but as yet undisclosed buyers. Of the 57 elephants, 42 are to be exported ‘outside Namibia’.
After a two month field-investigation into Namibia’s overall conservation model, it has been found that these captures and exports are likely to endanger some of Namibia’s isolated elephant populations, in particular, the uniquely desert-adapted elephants from the arid Kunene Region in the northwest of the country. Also, despite claims by the Namibian MEFT, the income generated from these sales is unlikely to benefit local communities, and will most-likely violate Namibia’s international wildlife trade obligations under its agreement with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
In December 2020, the MEFT published a tender for the sale of 170 wild elephants from four commercial farming areas in the north of the country (see fig 1. below). Half of those elephants, including 4-6 family groups, were set to be captured from the Kunene Region, the habitat of rare desert-adapted elephants. Ostensibly, the sale of these elephants is necessary to reduce their number and thus reduce human-elephant conflict.