CITES criteria met in elephant sale (Namibia)


Ellanie Smit, Namibian Sun

Date Published
See link for photo. 

The Ministry of Environment and Tourism has dismissed allegations and reports insinuating that the export of five baby elephants from Namibia to a zoo in Dubai do not met the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species on Fauna and Flora (CITES) criteria.

Namibian Sun recently reported that Namibia is planning to sell five baby elephants to a zoo in Dubai after a permit for export was issued.

The baby elephants are aged between the ages of 4 to 8 and are owned by Eden Game Farm, which is a private game farm near Grootfontein. The environment minister, Pohamba Shifeta at the time told Namibian Sun that all CITES regulations have been met.

The sale has however been met with some controversy by the international community with reports that Namibia is flouting CITES export criteria.

Conservation Action Trust questioned the export saying the sales of wild elephant can create a perverse financial incentive for other countries to engage in poor conservation practices, disguising the sales as conservation, wildlife management, or as ‘rescues’.”

A petition was drawn up against the sale and has nearly 8 000 signatures already.

Ministry spokesperson Romeo Muyundu yesterday told Namibian Sun that the export of the elephants from the Eden Game Farm to the zoo in Dubai meets all the CITES criteria.

He stressed that the sale of these elephants is not for commercial purposes but purely for conservation as Namibia has seen an increase in its elephant population and in human-wildlife conflict.

“This trade in elephants is purely for population management.”

Muyunda said that the Namibian African elephant population is listed on Appendix II with an annotation that deems elephants to being in Appendix I.

“This annotation allows Namibia to trade in live elephants to appropriate and acceptable destinations for in situ conservation programmes.”

He explained that the Namibian CITES authority has issued an export permit following that the requirements to export live specimen of a species listed in Appendix I have been met.

It is also required that Namibia must be satisfied that the specimen was not obtained in contravention of its laws and the country should be satisfied that any living specimen will be so prepared and shipped as to minimise the risk of injury, damage to health or cruel treatment.

Furthermore Namibia must be satisfied that an import permit has been granted for the specimen.

Additionally, the United Arab Emirates as the importing State has issued an import permit following that the requirements to import a live specimen of a species listed in Appendix I have been met. The requirements include that the import will be for purposes which are not detrimental to the survival of the species involved, amongst others.

“Our conservation has never been disguised and it has always been straightforward. Incentives we receive from the sale of wildlife and wildlife products are ploughed back into conservation. This we have demonstrated throughout the past and we have invested in projects such as poaching and wildlife conflict,” Muyunda said.

He further pointed out that that the Namibian elephant population has been increasing and this led to the increment of the Namibian elephant’s export quota from 75 animals to 90 animals per annum.

“Although, the increment of the export quota of African elephant from Namibia, this exported quota has never been fully utilized.”

In 2010, only 42 animals were exported, 53 elephants in 2011, 63 elephants in 2012, 47 elephants in 2013, 65 elephants in 2014, and 77 elephants in 2015. The elephants killed as problem animals are included in these figures.

Muyunda said that a study conducted by the ministry in 2015 on the trophy quality of African elephants hunted from Namibia since 2001 to 2014, showed that the allocated harvesting quota of 90 elephants per year is sustainable and conforms to the CITES requirement, which states that an allocated quota must ensure that the species is maintained throughout its range at a level consistent with its role in the ecosystems in which it occurs. Additionally, the study also showed that the trophy quality of the elephant has been increasing, implying that the population is healthy and this offtake is not detrimental to the survival of the species.