Namibia: Elephant exports reported to CITES

Aug 20, 2021 | News

By Ellanie Smit, The Namibian Sun

WINDHOEK: The non-governmental organisation Foundation Franz Weber (FFW) says according to recent field investigations conducted by them, capturing and exporting Namibian elephants will endanger the animals.

The environment ministry last week announced that it will capture 57 elephants for sale to undisclosed buyers, adding that 42 of them will be exported.

FFW said that would violate Namibia’s international obligations.

It has therefore approached the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) Secretariat and the ministry in an attempt to stop these sales.

News of the auctioning of 170 elephants broke in December 2020 and caused an uproar. In spite of the opposition, the ministry went ahead with the elephant auction in January. It sold 57 of the elephants for N$5.9 million. 

The ministry had previously told Namibian Sun that it aimed to generate at least N$13 million from the sale of 170 elephants.

The elephants that were put on auction were from the Omatjetje area (30), the Kamanjab commercial farming area (50), the Grootfontein-Kavango cattle ranch area (60) and the Grootfontein-Tsumkwe area (30). 

Population at Risk

FFW, which has been fighting for the protection of African elephants for more than 40 years, said it carried out a detailed investigation in Namibia in recent months. It said the results showed that the elephant population in the Kunene Region is on the verge of collapse after years of drought

It said it was therefore highly unlikely that the proposed capture of elephants in this region was viable. “It does not make sense that the only possible solution to the human-elephant conflicts is to export these animals from Namibia.

“Moreover, these conflicts are only observable in one area of the proposed capture sites – they are minimal in the other three areas earmarked for capture,” said Anna Zangger, FFW’s director of international campaigns.

Cites Violation

FFW further claims that the planned exports would violate Cites regulations, which prohibit Namibia from exporting African elephants, except to conservation programmes within the species range (by virtue of the annotation to the listing of these elephant populations in Cites Appendix II).

“However, this is not the first time that Namibia has overstepped its international obligations: in 2012 and 2013, it sent 24 live elephants to Mexico and Cuba,” it added.

FFW has raised its objections with the Cites Secretariat, the Swiss authorities responsible for Cites implementation, and Namibia directly.

In particular, FFW calls on Switzerland and the Cites Secretariat to take a strong stance in condemning these exports.