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(Cape Town, South Africa – 9 March 2022) – Namibian authorities have denied having any role in the sale and export of 22 wild elephants to the United Arab Emirates by a private owner who bought them at a government auction.
However, conservationists have hit back, with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) saying the elephants could not be exported from Namibia without a government-issued permit under the rules of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
Under the rules of the Convention that apply to Namibia’s elephants, they are not supposed be exported as live animals outside of their natural range. However, Namibia has been relying on a questionable interpretation of the rules to allow live elephant exports under different criteria.
“The UAE is not natural range for elephants and these kinds of exports offer no conservation benefits for elephants in Africa. Similarly, neither does the IUCN African Elephant Specialist Group endorse such ‘ex situ’ exports,” said Matthew Collis, IFAW Deputy Vice President for Conservation.
“The CITES Standing Committee is meeting this very week to discuss, among other things, Namibia’s questionable practice of previous live elephant exports; it is disappointing that these exports appear to have been rushed through in an attempt to avoid censure by governments at the CITES meeting.”
In 2020, the Namibian Government announced it would auction wild elephants to reduce numbers and raise revenue to prevent human-wildlife conflict—57 elephants were eventually sold, with authorities announcing 15 would remain in Namibia and the rest would be exported. Capture of the elephants began late last year.
About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) — IFAW is a global non-profit helping animals and people thrive together. We are experts and everyday people, working across seas, oceans and in more than 40 countries around the world. We rescue, rehabilitate and release animals, and we restore and protect their natural habitats. The problems we’re up against are urgent and complicated. To solve them, we match fresh thinking with bold action. We partner with local communities, governments, non-governmental organisations, and businesses. Together, we pioneer new and innovative ways to help all species flourish. See how at ifaw.org
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