By Ellanie Smit – The Namibian Sun
Namibia has confirmed that its trade in live African elephants will take place under Article III of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) and that it will fully comply with its requirements.
According to Cites, members of the public and non-governmental organisations have in recent weeks expressed concern about the possibility that Namibia is planning to export live African elephants to destinations outside the natural range of the species.
This follows the environment ministry’s recent announcement that it will capture 57 elephants for sale to undisclosed buyers, adding that 42 of them will be exported.
The non-governmental organisation Foundation Franz Weber (FFW) said according to recent field investigations conducted by them, capturing and exporting Namibian elephants will endanger the animals.
FFW said this would violate Namibia’s international obligations. It therefore approached the Cites Secretariat and the ministry in an attempt to stop the sales.
News of the auctioning of 170 elephants broke in December 2020 and caused an uproar. Despite the opposition, the ministry went ahead with an auction in January. It sold 57 elephants for N$5.9 million.
Cites explained that the African elephant population of Namibia was transferred from Appendix I to Appendix II at the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to Cites, held in Harare in 1997.
This transfer was accompanied by an annotation against the species’ name that clarifies the scope of the listing or specifies special conditions in its application, which was then amended in 2007.
Cites explained that live specimens from the Namibian African elephant can be traded “for in situ conservation programmes” under Article IV. It, however, added that in circumstances where this special “Appendix II conditionality” is not fulfilled, when live Namibian African elephants are not traded for “in situ conservation programmes”, they “shall be deemed to be specimens of species included in Appendix I and the trade in them shall be regulated accordingly”.
This means Namibia must trade such live specimens under Article III of the convention. It states that the export of any specimen of a species included in Appendix I will require a prior grant and presentation of an export permit. The import of any specimen of a species included in Appendix I will require the prior grant and presentation of an import permit and either an export permit or a re-export certificate, it added.
“Namibia assured the secretariat that the provisions in Article III will be fully complied with and that nothing will be traded outside the Cites requirements.”