Namibia’s wild elephants fall victim for international sale

The government hasn’t said where the elephants will go.

It’s contentious whether Namibia is even permitted to export wild elephants to a foreign zoo or other buyers outside southern Africa.

Namibia is in the process oThe international wildlife treaty that regulates the export of wild African elephants, CITES, was amended in 2019 to bar elephants in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and South Africa from being exported to any country where the animals don’t or haven’t lived in the wild unless there’s a proven conservation benefit. That almost certainly rules out sales to zoos in, for example, China and the United States.

Namibia had announced in December 2020 that it would auction off 170 of its elephants to reduce populations that were increasingly clashing with humans. It says it has an estimated 24,000 elephants.

“There is not an elephant overpopulation ‘problem’ in Namibia. This is all about profit.”

Selling wild elephants into captivity has long been controversial, both because there’s debate about whether such highly mobile, intelligent animals can live fulfilling lives in captivity and because breaking up herds damages relationships among close-knit family members.

Namibia’s December 2020 auction notice said elephants would be sold by the herd and wouldn’t break up families. Calves are visible in drone footage of a farm where the 22 captured elephants slated for export are being held.


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