Namibia: Elephant sale shrouded in secrecy

Mar 3, 2021 | News

By Ellanie Smit – The Namibian Sun

Government is refusing to make public the bidding results received for the sale of 170 elephants.

The environment ministry said it has received five bids for the sale of 170 elephants, however no other information has been made public although the tender was advertised publicly and the information should be made public as per the public procurement laws.

The sale has drawn widespread criticism and opposition, with online petitions calling for it to be cancelled and conservationists speaking up against it.

Ministry spokesperson Romeo Muyunda this week confirmed that the ministry had received five bids for the elephants, which were advertised for sale last year. Muyunda could however not say whether the bids were from local or international buyers. “The process is currently continuing and we will announce once stakeholder consultations have been finalised,” he said.

Critics have since questioned why the process is being done in secrecy unlike in other instances where the bidders and their bids made public. The ministry’s deputy executive director for the Department of Natural Resources Management Colgar Sikopo also told Namibian Sun that the ministry could not share more information as it may jeopardise the sale. 

“The ministry is conducting the evaluation process to make sure all requirements are met. Once the process is concluded the ministry will share the results.” 

The elephants for sale are from the Omatjetje area (30), the Kamanjab commercial farming area (50), the Grootfontein-Kavango cattle ranch area (60) and the Grootfontein-Tsumkwe area (30). 

International media reports have alleged that the sale is linked to corruption and that Namibia is covering up its true elephant population figures. The ministry, on the other hand, insists that it will not let communities living with elephants suffer at the expense of the emotions of people that do not understand the situation on the ground. 

The ministry said it would sell the animals to anyone in Namibia or abroad that meets criteria which include quarantine facilities and a game-proof fence certificate for the property where the elephants will be kept. 

In a recent statement, the Born Free Foundation said it led a coalition of 60 wildlife organisations, scientists and veterinarians, who wrote to President Hage Geingob and other government contacts, urging them to intervene.

Veterinarian Dr Mark Jones, Born Free’s head of policy, said these and other protests and petitions appear to have gone unheeded. 

“Many international experts have offered to assist the Namibian authorities in finding more effective and humane solutions to the perceived problems cited by those same authorities in defence of the sales.

“Their lack of response is extremely disappointing, and will doubtless be disastrous for the affected elephants and the wider family groups from which they will be cruelly torn. 

“It seems the authorities are more interested in short-term monetary gain than in the effective management of their elephant populations. Once again, we call on Namibia’s leaders to step back from the brink,” Jones added.

The environment ministry said concerns raised by international media, animal right groups, individuals and conservationists are baseless, misleading and devoid of truth.

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