South Africa slams the door on elephant tourism - NGOs rejoice

Monday, 25 February, 2008
Cape Town, South Africa
“This is great news and a brave step by Government in upholding its mandate as custodian and caretaker of our wildlife. Now what is needed is to ensure the law is so tightly drafted that it leaves no gaps to be exploited by commercial operators, in particular the elephant back safari industry,” said Jason Bell-Leask, Southern African Director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW – www­
An announcement on the Final Norms and Standards for Elephant Management was held in Pretoria, South Africa today.
IFAW and other NGOs have been campaigning for more than two years, to bring a halt to the capture of elephants from the wild to be used in the elephant tourism industry, including elephant-back safaris.
“The decision to prevent the capture of any more wild elephants for commercial purposes is a blow for an industry that is cruel, wrong and exploitative and which flies in the face of the opinions of the vast majority of the public who do not want to see our wildlife heritage being caught and forced into a heinous industry,” said Bell-Leask.
“With watertight laws in place, the industry will be capped once and for all, and its potential for growth almost entirely curtailed. This is a great victory for IFAW and other animal welfare groups which have campaigned for over three years to see an end to the capture of wild elephants for the tourism industry,” he said.
The newly announced Norms and Standards also lists culling as a potential, albeit last resort, in its suite of management options for the population control of elephants.
“IFAW is entirely opposed to culling and would hope that every other option should be exhausted before culling is even considered. While the new Norms and Standards do list culling as an option they certainly do not give managers the right go out and cull at will and it is up to government to ensure that ethically appropriated management decisions are made before that happens.
“IFAW would urge that culling should been seen only as a last option, and only when every other option has been exhausted,” said Bell-Leask.

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