South Africa allows capture of wild elephants

Monday, April 24, 2006
Cape Town, South Africa
Six young wild elephant were forcibly removed from their herd last week and condemned to lives of abuse as safari elephants – with the full approval of South Africa’s conservation authorities, and overseen by this country’s primary animal welfare organisation.
The elephants have been taken to the training facility of Elephants For Africa Forever (EFAF), a centre which notoriously supplies “tamed and trained” elephants to elephant-back safari tourism operations throughout South Africa.

Permits allowing the capture were issued by Limpopo Province and, according to the main shareholder of Selati Game Reserve from where the animals were taken; the event was monitored by a senior representative of the National Council of the Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA).

IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org) said the issuing of permits for the removal of the elephant and the presence of an NSPCA representative, virtually rubberstamps the abuses inherent in capturing wild elephants and subjecting them to lives in captivity.

“Taking elephants from the wild for elephant-back safari tourism, subjects the animals to entirely unregulated training methods that are open to abuse. No dedicated laws exist in South Africa that governs methods used in training elephants,” said Jason Bell-Leask, IFAW Director Southern Africa.

“Granting permits that allow the removal of young elephant from their family groups is contrary to the policy of our premier national park, the Kruger National Park, which says it is not appropriate to separate family groups.

“The fact that Limpopo granted these permits, and that the NSPCA was actually present when the animals were taken from their herd sends a message that dignifies the exploitation and abuse of elephant for profit.”

The six elephant – estimated to be between six and nine years old – were taken from their herd in the Selati Game Reserve, near Phalaborwa in the Limpopo Province on Easter Monday, as a helicopter was used to frighten off the bigger group. Gunshot was reportedly used to scare off a young bull elephant that repeatedly tried to reach the captured youngsters.

In addition a further two young elephant from the herd were darted and immobilised before being rejected as unsuitable candidates for the safari industry.

“Over and above the forced removal of the six elephant, the completely unnecessary darting of a further two is nothing more than animal abuse and should be condemned outright. It demonstrates the entirely callous nature of the elephant-back safari tourism industry as being one that has no conservation value whatsoever – and one that doesn’t even pretend to the slightest veneer of one,” said Bell-Leask.

“The elephant-back safari tourism industry typically claims that it is ‘saving’ young elephant from sure death in ‘culls’. IFAW disagrees - they are taking young elephant from the wild to be subjected to confinement and training that is wrong, cruel and exploitative and which pays no attention to the physical, behavioural, psychological and social needs of these highly intelligent creatures.”

After capture on 17th April the animals were transported to EFAF’s training facility near Tzaneen where they are confined in separate stables in a converted tobacco shed and without any access to natural light. Cattle prods were apparently used to force them from the transport trucks and into the stables.

IFAW was referred to Rob Snaddon, managing director of H L Hall & Sons, the main shareholders of Selati Game Reserve who confirmed that the capture of the elephants had taken place under permit and that a senior representative of the NSPCA had been present throughout.

USEFUL TELEPHONE NUMBERS:

Mr Rob Snaddon, Managing Director of HL Hall & Sons: +27 13 753 5700
Mr Rory Hensman, Elephants For Africa Forever (EFAF): +27 83 294 7440
Ms Marian Garai, Elephant Managers and Owners Association (EMOA): +27 14 755 4455
Ms Marcelle Meredith, National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA): +27 11 907 3590
Dr Shibu Rampedi, Limpopo Nature Conservation, +27 15 298 7073

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