THE EXPORT OF WILD CAUGHT NAMIBIAN ELEPHANTS TO THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Via Electronic Delivery:

Eng. Muna Omran Al Shamsi – Acting Director Biodiversity Department CITES United Arab Emirates

Her Excellency Mariam Bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Almheiri – Minister of Climate Change and Environment United Arab Emirates

Ms Ivonne Higuero – CITES Secretary General

Ms Sofie H. Flensborg – Legal Affairs and Compliance CITES Secretariat

Mr Thomas De Meulenaer – CITES Secretariat Chief Science Unit

Ms Carolina Caceres – Chair of CITES Standing Committee

Mr Mathias Lortscher – Chair of CITES Animals Committee

Namibia CITES Authority

Mr Mpho Tjiane – Department of Environmental Affairs CITES South Africa

Honourable Minister Barbara Creecy – Minister of Fisheries, Forestry and the Environment

Co-Chairs of the African elephant Coalition

27 October 2021

Honourable Representatives and Chairs,

URGENT OPEN LETTER

THE EXPORT OF WILD CAUGHT DESERT ELEPHANTS FROM NAMIBIA TO THE UAE

The Pro Elephant Network (PREN) is an international community of diverse individuals and organizations, comprising specific expertise, from both western and eastern academies, on wild and captive elephants, including the fields of science, health, conservation, elephant welfare, economics, community leadership, social justice and the law.

Please find attached our correspondence to the Namibian CITES Authorities and to the CITES Secretariat and relevant CITES Committees in August and September 2021. Our correspondence clearly articulated Namibia’s obligations under CITES and carefully pointed out the roles and responsibilities of CITES Secretariat, CITES Committees and the Member States which are signatories of the Convention.

https://www.proelephantnetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/PREN-LETTER-TO-CITES-RE-NAMIBIA-EXPORT_210921.pdf

Members of PREN have subsequently received reliable information that indicates that the selection and capture of wild elephant family groups in Namibia has already taken place and that the permits have in all likelihood been issued. The information further suggests that the elephants are in quarantine in preparation for export.

There is a distinct possibility that these elephants have been selected from a small and fragile population in the North- West of Namibia.

Furthermore, the information we have to hand is that a South African wildlife trader/broker is involved in this process and that the elephants are destined for two captive locations in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE does not have an in situ population of elephants. The UAE has already imported wild elephants from Namibia who are kept in captivity in Safari Parks and private zoos1.

[1] New elephants at Emirates Park Zoo | Time Out Abu Dhabi

THE EXPORT OF NAMIBIAN DESERT ELEPHANTS

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:

  1. Are the forty-two elephants to be captured and sold internationally for in situ conservation purposes only? 
  2. What are the final destinations of the forty-two elephants selected for exportation? 
  3. 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. 

PREN REQUESTS URGENT INTERVENTION FROM CITES SECRETARIAT

STOP THE IMMENT CAPTURE OF YOUNG ELEPHANTS IN ZIMBABWE FOR EXPORT TO CAPTIVE FACILITIES

In spite of the Pro Elephant Network communications with CITES representatives and the denial statements from wildlife authorities in Zimbabwe over the past two months, members of PREN have continued to receive credible intelligence from Zimbabwe that the capture of elephants for export to China via an African country will go ahead.

PREN members, in attempt to halt the capture process from taking place in Zimbabwe, authorised lawyers Cullinan and Associates to send an urgent letter to the CITES Secretariat, the Chair of CITES Standing Committee, Chair of CITES Animals Committee and the Legal Officer on the 24th August 2021.

COPY OF LETTER TO CITES:

Image Credit: This elephant exported from Zimbabwe in 2012, now lives alone at Taiyuan Zoo, in China. Courtesy of Change for Animal Foundation published in National Geographic

© Copyright Pro Elephant Network 2021. All rights reserved.

WORLD ELEPHANT DAY 2021

12th August 2021

NAMIBIAN MINISTRY UPDATE ON THE ELEPHANT AUCTION

On World Elephant Day 2021 Members of the Pro Elephant Network have sent a letter to the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism with regard to the communication circulated and dated 11th August 2021.

PREN members asked if the Ministry could confirm the following:

  1. If the forty-two elephants that are to be captured and sold internationally are for in situ conservation purposes only?
  2. What the final destinations of the forty-two elephants selected for exportation are?
  3. If any of the fifty-seven elephants will be going in to captivity?

Image Credit: The Independent

© Copyright Pro Elephant Network 2021. All rights reserved.

ZIMBABWE DENIES PREPARATION IS UNDERWAY FOR EXPORT OF ELEPHANTS TO CHINA VIA NIGERIA

PUBLIC STATEMENT 4TH AUGUST 2021

Following on from the letter that the members of the Pro Elephant Network, published on this website the 10th of July 2021, on the 30th of July a representative of the SECRETARIAT of CITES informed the members of the PREN that the Zimbabwean CITES representative had refuted all allegations that the Zimbabwe wildlife authorities were preparing to capture wild elephants for the purpose of export to Nigeria and that they were not considering any such exports anytime soon.

This statement from Zimbabwe was in response to communications between the members of PREN and CITES in an attempt to confirm information that was reliably received that Zimbabwe was preparing to capture wild elephants for export to an African country.

Members of the Pro Elephant Network are furthermore, hereby, seeking assurances from CITES that they will intervene to stop any shipment of wild captured elephants from Zimbabwe to any destination.

READ THE FULL STATEMENT HERE:

Image Credit: Awais Awan, African elephants in captivity in Pakistan

© Copyright Pro Elephant Network 2021. All rights reserved.

PREN EXPERTS COMMENTS ON THE DFFE SOUTH AFRICAN DRAFT POLICY POSITION

READ THE FULL SUBMISSION HERE:

Member of the Pro Elephant Network welcome a Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Draft Policy Position which has a broad vision of “secured, restored and rewilded natural landscapes with thriving populations of elephant, lion, rhino and leopard as indicators for a vibrant, responsible, inclusive, transformed and sustainable wildlife sector and an equitable society living in harmony with natural resources.”

The Pro Elephant Network members strongly and specifically support a phase-out of captive elephants in South African zoos, with the proviso that all due-care must be provided to elephants currently in captivity. The PREN elephant specialists would be happy to work with the South African authorities to identify the most appropriate solutions for these elephants.

IMAGE CREDIT: Dr Smaragda Louw Ban Animal Trading Johannesburg Zoo 28th July 2021

© Copyright Pro Elephant Network 2021. All rights reserved.

EXPERTS ONCE AGAIN FEAR FOR YOUNG ZIMBABWE ELEPHANTS

Members of the Pro Elephant Network have written a letter to the President of Zimbabwe, the Endangered Species Import and Export Management Office of the People’s Republic of China in Beijing, the Legal Officer at CITES, the Secretary General of CITES, the chairperson of the African Union, the IUCN SSC African Elephant Specialist Group, the Co-Chairs of the African Elephant Coalition.

PLEASE FIND A COPY OF THE FULL LETTER HERE:

The PREN experts have been reliably informed and are deeply concerned about the imminent capture of young elephants for export from Zimbabwe to captive locations abroad.

The PREN experts call on the relevant authorities to immediately suspend any plans to capture live elephants for export.

The decision that “only appropriate and acceptable destinations for live elephants exported from Zimbabwe or Botswana should be in-situ conservation programmes or secure areas in the wild, within the species natural and historical range in Africa, except in exceptional circumstances where, in consultation with the Animals Committee, through its Chair with the support of the Secretariat and in consultation with the IUCN African Elephant Specialist Group , it is considered that a transfer to ex-situ locations will provide demonstrable in-situ conservation benefits for African elephants or in the case of temporary transfer in emergency situations” was taken at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) CoP18 meeting in Geneva in 2019. This decision was supported backed by a coalition of African nations and the European Union, this decision must be respected.

Image Credit: Hwange National Park

© Copyright Pro Elephant Network 2021. All rights reserved.

THE PROPOSED IMPORT OF TWO WILD ELEPHANTS FROM ZIMBABWE FOR THE PESHAWAR ZOO IN PAKISTAN

PRO ELEPHANT NETWORK STATEMENT 

Delivered To:

Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan, Constitutional Avenue, Islamabad

Government of Pakistan, Ministry of Climate Change and Conservator Wildlife, CITES National Authority, LG RD Complex, 5th Floor G-5/2, Islamabad

Legal Officer, Legal Affairs and Compliance, CITES Secretariat, International Environment House, 11 Chemin des Annemones, CH-1219 Chatelaine, Geneva, Switzerland

Ivonne Higuero, Secretary General, CITES

President Felix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, Chairperson of the African Union

Barbara Creecy, Chairperson of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN)

11  April 2021  

THE PROPOSED IMPORT OF TWO WILD ELEPHANTS FROM ZIMBABWE FOR THE PESHAWAR ZOO IN PAKISTAN

The Pro Elephant Network (PREN) consists of an international community of diverse individuals and organizations, comprising specific expertise on elephants and captive elephants, from both western and eastern academies, including the fields of science, health, conservation, elephant welfare, economics, community leadership, social justice and the law. 

We are referring to the Civil Petition No. 498-P/2020 pending before the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan which has resulted from Writ Petition No. 6653-P/2019 in the Peshawar High Court by Muhammed Hanif, Director of the Muhammed Hanif & Engineer Constructions Pvt Ltd. The petition seeks to secure a NOC document in order to try to complete the importation process of two elephants from Zimbabwe to the Peshawar Zoo in Pakistan. 

CONVENTION ON INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN ENDANGERED SPECIES 

There are strict rules under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) which are used to regulate the international trade in live elephants, these rules are especially relevant when the proposed trade includes removing elephants from their natural range. 

CITES is a multilateral treaty to protect endangered animals and plants threatened by trade.  The Convention was drafted as the result of a resolution adopted in 1963 at a meeting of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (ICUN) in Nairobi, Kenya.  The Convention entered into force as a global agreement among governments in 1975, Pakistan is a Party to CITES. 

On the 27th August 2019 at the 18th Conference of Parties (CoP18) to CITES in Geneva, Switzerland, CITES Parties voted in favour of an amendment to a Resolution[1]  to prohibit the trade in live elephants from populations listed in Appendix II of CITES and taken from the wild, to “in situ conservation programmes or secure areas in the wild, within the species’ natural and historical range in Africa, except in exceptional circumstances where, in consultation with the Animals Committee, through its Chair with the support of the Secretariat, and in consultation with the IUCN elephant specialist group, it is considered that a transfer to ex-situ locations will provide demonstrable in-situ conservation benefits for African elephants, or in the case of temporary transfers in emergency situations.”


[1] Resolution Conference 11.20 (Rev. CoP18). 2019. Definition of the term ‘appropriate and acceptable destinations’. CITES Conference of the Parties, Geneva, 2019. https://cites.org/sites/default/files/document/E-Res-11-20-R18.pdf

NATIONAL ZOOLOGICAL GARDENS South Africa

A Brief History of the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa Prepared for the Pro Elephant Network

THE FOUNDING OF THE NATIONAL ZOOLOGICAL GARDENS  ALSO KNOWN AS THE PRETORIA ZOO

The Transvaal National Museum of Natural History, now known as the Ditsong Museum, was founded on the 1st December 1892. 

Dr J.W.B. Gunning was appointed as the director in 1897. 

The Museum holds large collections of mammals, birds, reptiles and invertebrates the Museum is located in central Pretoria, the capital of South Africa. 

A comprehensive series of educational programmes is offered to schools and students in a various South African languages.

Elephant exhibits at Ditsong Museum of Natural History, Pretoria  IMAGE CREDIT Getty Images

Gunning acted as the keeper of mammalian and ornithological collections. 

A collection of live animals acquired by Gunning were kept in the garden at the back of the Museum, these live animals formed the nucleus of the Transvaal Zoological Gardens which then developed into Pretoria’s National Zoological Gardens.

PREN REQUESTS AN URGENT MEETING WITH MINISTER CREECY

Wednesday 17th February 2021

Dear Minister Barbara Creecy,

SUBJECT OF MEETING: THE PROVISION OF SCIENTIFIC AND ELEPHANT EXPERT INPUT WITH REGARD TO A DECISION MAKING PROCESS FOR CHARLIE, THE ELEPHANT, AT THE PRETORIA ZOO IN SOUTH AFRICA

The Pro Elephant Network (PREN) hereby formally requests an urgent online meeting with the Honourable Minister to be attended by leading elephant experts and scientists.

The experts and scientists listed below have offered to assist the Honourable Minister, in order so that the best possible solution can be achieved for Charlie.

We, refer to our letter dated the 16th of December 2020 and we thank the Minister for her acknowledgement receipt of the same on the 17th December 2020.

The members of PREN are, however, becoming increasingly concerned about the physical and mental well-being of Charlie and the inadequate conditions provided for elephants at the National Zoological Gardens, in Pretoria.

Landa’s, Charlie’s companion, post mortem results and medical reports, which were also included in our letter to the Minister in December 2020, suggest the apparent consumption of sand by the elephants at the National Zoological Gardens. The consumption of sand could lead to serious if not fatal consequences. Charlie is also manifesting stereotypical behaviour of a highly stressed elephant.

The members of PREN are further concerned about the recent statement made in Parliament  “The National Zoological Garden is currently considering options as to whether to find a companion for our one remaining elephant” as reported in an article of February the 6th 2021. Acquiring more elephants is not the correct solution for Charlie, nor for the benefit of the National Zoological Gardens in Pretoria.