By Ellanie Smit, The Namibian Sun
WINDHOEK: An online petition against Namibia’s sale of 170 elephants has already gained more than 1,000 signatures.
The petition on change.org, started by Eve Curtis from Canada, is directed to the environment ministry and its directorate of wildlife and national parks. By late yesterday afternoon a total of 1,078 people had signed the petition.
“Tell the Namibian government we are against selling entire herds to the highest bidder,” the petition headline read. The ministry last week advertised the tender to sell elephants in response to the drought and an increase in animal numbers coupled with human-elephant conflict.
The elephants are from the Omatjette, Grootfontein-Kavango Cattle Ranch and Grootfontein-Tsumkwe areas, as well as the Kamanjab commercial farming area.
“Namibia has decided to sell whole herds of elephants due to what they say is overpopulation rather than culling. They site that this will preserve their delicate social structure and rid the area of too many elephants. Is this really the answer? We have seen much underhandedness and political agendas as well as corruption in these solutions to wildlife management,” the petition said.
It further questions who the elephants will be sold to. “Safari parks in the Middle East or China? After the stress of capturing and transportation, how many will remain alive?”
The petition questioned how a herd can safely and compassionately be moved without trauma, adding that the psychological stress will be enough to cause long-lasting stress and death. “Can we trust the powers to be to sell to an ethical buyer? Does that exist? When we allow wildlife to be a commodity, there can be no good result nor happy ending. There has to be another solution.”
‘Life of Misery’
“What they are trying to do is remove the elephants to clear land for themselves! Liars!” signee Richard Dames wrote. Meanwhile, Richard Braham said it is outrageous and unacceptable to sell off elephants into a “life of misery. The stench of greed and corruption is vile,” he added.
Brenda Reid described it as disgusting, while Jane Miller said government should find a better way of dealing with the animals.
On Twitter, a campaign #NoElephantAuction has also been started, with tweets claiming that Namibia is selling its national heritage.
The ministry said it would sell the animals to anyone in Namibia or abroad that meets strict criteria, which include quarantine facilities and a game-proof fence certificate for the property where the elephants will be kept. For export purposes, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species requirements must be met, the ministry added.
Foreign buyers must also provide proof that conservation authorities in their countries will permit them to export elephants.