Aerial footage confirms that the enclosure is surrounded by high walls and the sparse natural vegetation has been consumed by the elephants over the past four months. There is little indication of shade or shelter in the holding area. This raises severe concerns for the welfare of the elephants, in particular for the two calves who were born in this captive situation. The birth of the two calves also indicates that the capture and transport to the holding facility situated 600km away from the capture area, included elephants in their last trimester of pregnancy. This raises further welfare, safety and legal concerns. The advanced pregnancies should have been identified prior to capture.

Further questions relating to the legality of the capture have been raised, if the elephants had flown out as planned, the export of the elephants would be in violation of the IATA regulations, which prohibit the travelling of animals in their last trimester of pregnancy.

In addition, transporting elephants with calves adds further risk. The new-born calves would need to be forcibly separated from their mothers for the duration of the long journey. A mother and calf cannot travel in the same crate, because the risk of the mother trampling or injuring the baby during the loading and unloading procedures is too high.

PREN will provide further information if requested on the understanding that both EAZA and CITES will take the necessary precautionary measures to halt the export of these elephants to the UAE and to ensure that these elephants are returned to the wild as soon as possible.

PREN Members urgently request that:

  1. The two CITES Parties halt the export of these elephants to the UAE and ensure that these elephants are returned to the wild as soon as possible.
  2. The CITES Standing Committee takes a clear position on this unfortunate matter of the capture of wild elephants in Namibia for export to captivity at its upcoming 74th meeting in Lyon, France, 7-11 March 2022.
  3. The CITES Secretariat and the CITES Parties commit to robust disciplinary measures if the export goes ahead.

This Pro Elephant Network Communication is signed and endorsed by the following PREN Members:

Owais Awan – Advocate to the the High Court of Islamabad

Suparna Baksi-Ganguly – President and Co-Founder, Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, Bangalore, India

Dr Brett Bard – Veterinarian, South Africa

Dr Jessica Bell Rizzolo – Postdoctoral Researcher, the Conservation Criminology Lab, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University

Janey Clegg – Committee Member, SPCA Mutuare, Zimbabwe

Professor David Bilchitz – Director, South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public and Human Rights and International Law, South Africa

Megan Carr – Researcher, Founder Rhinos in Africa, South Africa

Lenin Chisaira – Founder Advocates 4 Earth – Green Law Connect, Zimbabwe

Dr Betsy Coville – Exotic Wildlife Veterinarian, United States of America

Dr Harvey Croze – Collaborating Researcher Amboseli Trust for Elephants, Kenya

Nomusa Dube – Founder, Zimbabwe Elephant Foundation, United Kingdom

David Ebert – Founder and Director of the Animal Defense Partnership, United States of America

Stefania Falcon – Co-founder Future 4 Wildlife, South Africa

Daniela Freyer – Co-founder, Pro Wildlife, Germany

Michele Franko – Captive Elephant Caregiver, United States of America

Chief Stephen Fritz – Indigenous Leader, South Peninsula Khoi Council, South Africa

Dr Toni Frohoff – Ethologist and Behavioural Biolgist, Founder of TerraMar Research, United States of America