13th April 2022

The Co-ordinator of PREN has, today, addressed an open letter to the Honourable Minister, Barbara Creecy of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, the letter was also addressed to the Chief Executive Officer of the South African National Biodiversity Institute and the letter was addressed to the Executive Director of the National Zoological Gardens.



The Pro Elephant Network (PREN) as an international community of diverse individuals and organizations, comprising specific expertise, on wild and captive African and Asian elephants, including the fields of science, health, conservation, welfare, economics, community leadership, social justice and the law, has been respectively engaging with the Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment and meeting with SANBI, since December 2020. 

On the 16th December 2020 members of PREN alerted the Honourable Minister to their concerns regarding the mental and physical well-being and welfare of Charlie, the bull elephant at the Pretoria Zoo. 

PREN members have subsequently repeatedly requested that Charlie undergo an assessment by independent, renown elephant experts and, if the results of the assessments are in favour, that he be allowed to follow a rehabilitation program for reintegration in a more suitable natural environment, in collaboration with the Zoo and the EMS Foundation, a Member of PREN. 

We are aware of the arduous and fruitless engagement process that took place between the EMS Foundation and SANBI representatives during 2021.  

PREN fully endorses the actions of the EMS Foundation which includes the public statement of the 7th of April  2022. 

PREN hereby formally requests once again that the South African Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment and SANBI, grant access to Charlie in order for an urgent, independent veterinary and behavioural assessment to be carried out.  

We remain concerned for Charlie’s physical and mental well-being.  

The following Pro Elephant Network Members signed in support of this open letter:

Owais Awan                              Advocate High Court, Islamabad

Suparna Baksi-Ganguly              President and Co-Founder, Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation Center, Bangalore, India

Dr Brett Bard                             Veterinarian, South Africa 

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

Janey Clegg                              Committee Member, SPCA Mutare, Zimbabwe

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

Megan Carr                               Founder, Rhinos in Africa  

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

Dr Betsy Coville                          Exotic / Wildlife Animal Veterinarian 

Dr Harvey Croze                        DPhil (Oxon) Collaborating Researcher – Amboseli Trust for Elephants – Kenya 

Nomusa Dube                           Founder, Zimbabwe Elephant Foundation

David Ebert                               Advocate, Founder Director of The Animal Defense Partnership – USA

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

Daniela Freyer                           Co-Founder, Pro Wildlife, Germany

Michele Franko                          Captive Elephant Caregiver and Advocate – USA

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

Dr Toni Frohoff                          Ethologist and Behavioral Biologist, Founder of TerraMar Research  

Dr Marion E. Garai                     Elephant Behaviour Specialist – South Africa 

Dr Ross Harvey                         Environmental Economist, Botswana   

Heike Henderson-Altenstein       Director, Future for Elephants e.V. 

Alok Hisarwala Gupta                 Lawyer, Animal Law – India 

Iris Ho                                       Head of Policy – Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA)

Peter Hodgskin                          Founder, Hands-off Fernkloof, South Africa 

Sangita Iyer                               B.Sc., M.A., Founder of Voice for Asian Elephants Society, Nat Geo Explorer and  Wildlife Filmmaker

Lynne James                             Independent, Elephant Conservation,  Zimbabwe

Dr Mark Jones                           Veterinarian, Born Free Foundation – UK

David Kabambo                         Founder Director of Peace for Conservation – Wildlife Management – Tanzania

Dr Paula Kahumbu                    WildlifeDirect, Kenya  

Professor Mohan Kharel             Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal

Nuria Maldonado                       Ecologist, Environmental Science, Max Plank Institute

Jim Karani                                 Advocate, Lawyers for Animal Protection in Africa – Kenya 

Dr Winnie Kiiru                          Founder, Conservation Kenya

Brigitte Kornetzky                      President and Founder of Elefanten in Not  – Switzerland / India 

Professor Bob Jacobs                Neuroscience Researcher – Colorado College – USA

Kahindi Lekalhaile                      Africa Network for Animal Welfare, Kenya 

Dr Smaragda Louw                    Director, Ban Animal Trading, South Africa 

Dr Keith Lindsay                        Conservation Biologist, Amboseli Trust for Elephants – Kenya; Fondation Franz Weber

Giorgio Lombardi                       Warden Vogelgat Private Nature Reserve, South Africa 

Linda Masudze                          Advocate 4 Earth, Zimbabwe 

Varda Mehrotra                         Environmentalist, Climate Crisis Researcher – India  

Dr Nurzhafarina Binti Othman     Founder: Seratu Aatai, Elephant Conservation and Research Coordinator at HUTAN-KOCP  – Malaysia 

Sharon Pincott                           Elephant Behavioural Specialist, ex-Hwange, Zimbabwe  

Bharati Ramachandran              CEO of the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations – India

Ian Redmond OBE                     Founder, African Ele-Fund and Elefriends Campaign, Chairman of Ape Alliance and Co-founder of Rebalance Earth  

Ingo Schmidinger                       Elephant Husbandry – Co-Founder iScapes 

Dr Jan Schmidt-Burbach            Veterinarian, Head of Wildlife Research and Animal Welfare, World Animal Protection International

Dr DJ Schubert                          Wildlife Biologist, Animal Welfare Institute – USA 

Dr Liz Tyson                              Animal Welfare Law, Programs Director  – Born Free USA 

Antoinette Van de Water            Director, Bring the Elephant Home, South Africa  

Vasanthi Vadi                            Trustee of the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations – India 

Prof Dan Wylie                          Rhodes University, South Africa 

Image Credit: EMS Foundation November 2021

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