THE PRO ELEPHANT NETWORK OPEN LETTER TO THE SECRETARIAT OF CITES
Ms Ivonne Higuero – CITES Secretary General
Addressed to: Ms Sofie H. Flensborg – Legal Affaris and Compliance – CITES Secretariat
Mr Thomas De Meulenaer – Chief Science Unit – CITES Secretariat
Ms Carolina Caceres – Chair of CITES Standing Committee
Mr Mathias Lortscher – Chair of CITES Animals Committee
CC: Co-Chairs of the African elephant Coalition
DATED: 21st September 2021
Honorable Chairs and Representatives,
On the 11th of August 2021, Namibia’s Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism released a statement – Ministerial update on the Elephant Auction – which declared that 57 wild elephants would be captured and 42 of these exported.
On World Elephant Day – 12th August 2021 – the Pro Elephant Network (PREN) wrote to the Namibian CITES authorities, asking:
- Are the forty-two elephants to be captured and sold internationally for in situ conservation purposes only?
- What are the final destinations of the forty-two elephants selected for exportation?
- Will any of the fifty-seven elephants be going into captivity?
To date, no acknowledgement of, or response to this letter has been received from the Namibian government. Throughout the almost ten months since its original announcement in December 2020 of the intention to auction elephants for capture and possible export, the Government of Namibia has consistently failed to provide transparent information to national and international stakeholders about the exact source and population status of the elephants to be targeted as well as their destination.
On September 8th 2021, the CITES Secretariat issued a contentious statement on its website entitled − Statement on Trade in live African elephants under articles III and IV – which was sharing Namibia’s wrong interpretation that the trade in wild elephants from Namibia to ex situ destinations (i.e. outside of their natural range) was possible under Appendix I rules.
The Secretariat updated its statement on the 17th of September, however once again failed to address the legal arguments speaking against such exports. It also failed to acknowledge the fact, that the CITES Animals Committee had in June expressed concerns on live elephant exports and that Namibia’s controversial interpretation will be further discussed at the Standing Committee.