PREN SUPPORTS AND ENDORSES THE SUBMISSION OF THE WILDLIFE RESCUE AND REHABILITATION CENTRE IN INDIA

The submission was made to the Honourable Members and the Secretariat of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology Environment, Forests and Climate Change in New Delhi, in India by Suparna Ganguly, Honorary President and Co Founder and Trustee of the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre in Bangalore in India on the 27th of January 2021.

Members of PREN wrote a supporting submission on the 12th of February 2022.

The submissions were made with regard to the Proposed Wildlife Protection Amendment Bill 159 of 2021.

READ BOTH SUBMISSIONS HERE:

PREN Members stated their concerns with regard to section 43 of the Wildlife Protection Act specifically in relation to clause 27. Furthermore it was suggested and recommended that the Committee review the overwhelming science which discourages the ownership and trade in elephants in favour of protecting Elephants in India.

FOUR PAWS INTERNATIONAL SEND EXPERT MEDICAL TEAM TO EXAMINE THE AFRICAN ELEPHANTS IN KARACHI SAFARI PARK AND ZOO BY ORDER OF THE SINDH HIGH COURT

STATEMENT FROM THE PRO ELEPHANT NETWORK

6TH DECEMBER 2021

On the 8th of January 2021 the members of the Pro Elephant Network requested urgent medical veterinary assistance for four African elephants originally from Tanzania now resident at the Karachi Safari Park and Zoo, in Karachi in Pakistan. 

This appeal was delivered after the PREN experts viewed videos and photographs of the elephants.  In light of the content of the video PREN members offered expertise and critical veterinary and husbandry support. Two of the PREN experts Dr Marion Garai and Dr Brett Bard submitted detailed reports. 

This inaction resulted in a petition being filed to the Hon’ble Sindh High Court in Karachi.  PREN member and Advocate, Owais Awan who acted for Kaavan the elephant and secured a historic decision, to have him freed from his confinement at Islamabad zoo in 2020, filed the petition along with co-petitioner Pakistan Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).

The following demands were included in the petition: 

  1. Actions of the city government must be termed illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional and against the injunctions of Islam.
  2. All four elephants must be immediately examined.
  3. Directions must be issued to ensure international standards of animal care for them.
  4. A committee must also be formed to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the Karachi zoo.

The Divisional Bench of the Hon’ble Sindh High Court ruled that internationally recognised, elephant medical experts be granted access to the elephants.  A team of veterinarians led by Dr Amir Khalil, who played a major role in transferring Kaavan, from the Islamabad Zoo to the Cambodia Sanctuary in 2020, was invited by the High Court to attend to the emergency medical examination of the four African elephants. 

In November 2021 Dr Frank Goeritz, Dr Amir Khalil, Professor Thomas Hilburnell and Dr Marina Invanova arrived in Karachi in Pakistan from Europe.  Their visit was organised by the global animal welfare group Four Paws with PREN member and Advocate Owais Awan as their consultant.

During the initial examinations of the four elephants it was determined that one of the elephants required a complicated surgery to remove a damaged and infected tusk and it was determined that a second elephant has dental problems and a medical issue with its foot. Such diseases are extremely painful and can lead to life-threatening situations in elephants according to the experts preliminary report. 

The experts confirmed that one of the elephants had been incorrectly sexed for over ten years.  

The experts also recommended that all four elephants be united, that they received a proper diet and that the staff caring for the elephants required proper training. 

All four elephants were diagnosed as being obese. Blood and urine samples were taken from the elephants and a myriad of tests were conducted.  A full report will be submitted to the court. The experts also noted that there are no swimming facilities in the elephant enclosure, that the enclosure is also situated in a position that offers no relief from constant traffic noise pollution. 

Details of the Four Paws International visit to the elephants, has sparked worldwide attention and has been widely published in the international media. 

The Members of the Pro Elephant Network are extremely grateful to Owais Awan for his continued efforts to support the welfare of elephants and to the court for this thoughtful decision which protects the best interests of the elephants.  

PREN would like to acknowledge the dedication of this expert team, who despite the current COVID_19 associated risks travelled to a different continent in order to offer their medical expertise to relieve the pain and suffering of these four elephants. 

The members hereby acknowledge the commitment for the Four Paws organisation whose vision is a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. 

Image(s) Credit: Four Paws International

© Copyright Pro Elephant Network 2021. All rights reserved.

PROPOSED LIVE EXPORT OF ELEPHANT TO QATAR ZOO FROM ZAMBIA

COPY OF THE OPEN LETTER ADDRESSED TO THE PRESIDENT OF ZAMBIA, MINISTER OF TOURISM AND ARTS, DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THE DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL PARKS AND WILDLIFE ZAMBIA

EXPORT OF LIVE ELEPHANTS TO QATAR ZOO 

The Members of the Pro Elephant Network hereby offer our warm congratulations on your victory and our best wishes for your success as you prepare to take up the responsibilities and challenges of your high office. 

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[1].We understand that, prior to your election, the previous administration committed to a ‘State to State transfer’ of two elephants to Qatar.  The members of PREN together with wildlife conservationists from around the world, were alarmed to hear that the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) had captured two wild elephant calves, a male and a female, from South Luangwa National Park. These elephants were then held captive at Lusaka National Park in preparation for export. The health of the female elephant calf rapidly deteriorated and she tragically died when being sedated for transport. The male elephant calf was then exported to the Doha Zoo, which is currently closed, while a new facility is being constructed.

It is of grave to concern to the members of PREN, in light of the recent tragedy, that the Zambian government is planning to attempt to capture another wild elephant calf to replace the female that died and export her to Qatar. According to press reports, the Zambian Environment minister announced that “the Zambian Government is ready to honour the bilateral obligation”[1].  

Given their complex cognitive abilities, intelligence,[2] empathy[3] and sentience[4], elephants have a suite of emotional responses and physical behaviours. They are highly social animals who naturally live in tight-knit herds forming strong family bonds that can last a lifetime. They are wide-ranging and require access to large, complex, stimulating ecological and social environments, and the freedom to exercise choice over their foraging options and companions. 

When deprived of these basic social and emotional needs, as in captive environments, they inevitably suffer from psychological trauma and physical deterioration[5], including the deterioration of the brain[6]. Not only are captive elephants likely to acquire physical ailments that invariably shorten their lifespan[7], they are also prone to developing psychological issues. 

Most importantly, young growing elephants crucially depend on their mothers and other family members for appropriate socialisation and learning, and to acquire important social skills and competence, and copying mechanisms for life. Taking them away from their mothers is depriving them of everything they must learn to function as a normal elephant. Male calves only leave their natal families at 12 to 15 years old while females remain together for life. Disruption of this bond through the removal of young elephants from their family groups is physically and psychologically traumatic for both the calves and remaining families and groups, with often devastating life-long lasting negative effects.

The well-documented symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)[8] displayed as behaviour such as stereotypic weaving movements are caused by chronic depression and stress that elephants suffer in zoos and in captivity. This can be caused by capture operations, by being ripped apart from their families and then transported long-distances to ex situ locations and to totally unfamiliar surroundings. There is growing international recognition that the capture and export of wild elephants to captive destinations is inhumane and does not contribute to conservation. These concerns have been raised also in a document that African countries submitted to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Animals Committee[9]In addition to concerns on the impact of the capture on the affected individuals and their herds, there are also concerns on the legality of this transaction:  Zambia’s elephants are listed on Appendix I of CITES which generally prohibits their exportation. CITES only allows for exemptions under very narrow circumstances and when the ex- and importing country has issued permits after ensuring that:

  • the animals are used for primarily non-commercial purposes
  • live animals are so prepared and shipped as to minimize the risk of injury, damage to health or cruel treatment
  • when the offtake is not detrimental to the species and 
  • when the recipient facility is suitably equipped to house and care for the specimen. 

It is, therefore,  questionable whether these conditions have been adequately fulfilled and appropriate permits have been issued.  Given the circumstances described above, including the death of one elephant during preparations for export and the fact that the intended recipient facility has not even been finalized, we must formally interject.   Furthermore, Qatar has at best only basic animal welfare regulations, we are not inspired with confidence that any elephants exported to Qatar will receive the best possible care.

Mr President, we respectfully request that you reject the previous administration’s decision to donate these elephants to Qatar, as it does not reflect the values of your new progressive Government  and could harm Zambia’s reputation as a nation which values its natural heritage. We urge you to intervene and ban the capture of wild elephants for export from Zambia to ex situ locations. 

Every remaining wild elephant in Zambia is an important part of Zambia’s natural heritage, and should be treasured as such. Adopting such a mindset and attitude, and recognizing the crucial role that elephants play in the forest ecosystems is vital for the survival of the species, which has been listed as Endangered by the IUCN.

We stand ready to provide further input and evidence, based on the experience and expertise of our members.

SHANKAR

COPY OF THE LETTER ADDRESSED TO: THE DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL ZOOLOGICAL PARK IN DELHI

29th October 2021

SOLUTIONS FOR THE REHABILITATION OF SHANKAR, THE ELEPHANT AT THE DELHI ZOO, INDIA

The Pro Elephant Network (PREN) consists of 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.[1]

We appreciate the recent public statements from the management of the National Zoological Park. These include the focus towards empathy and care for the animals as well as the interest in involving academia to assist with understanding  animal behaviour better, in order to improve their welfare and wellbeing at the Zoo.[2]

We have unfortunately received disturbing reports about the condition and behaviour of the young adult male African elephant Shankar, kept at the Delhi Zoo. Members of PREN have studied the footage of Shankar engaging in stereotypic behaviour during September 2021.[3]  The reports indicate that Shankar is being kept chained up and that he is standing on hard surfaces for approximately 17 hours a day.  His distress is causing him to self-harm during musth while trying to free himself from his unpadded, metal chains.  

Collectively we all care deeply about elephants and we hereby formally offer the opportunity of collaboration in order for us to discuss possible solutions for improving Shankar’s living conditions for the betterment of his welfare and his future health and well-being. 

According to the Elephant Encyclopaedia and Database[4], Shankar was caught in the wild in Zimbabwe, aged two years old, and gifted to India in 1998. Shankar arrived at the Delhi zoo on the 2nd of October 1998. Shankar has been a solitary elephant since 2005, when his companion Bombai died. 

Recent research has invalidated the previously-held notion that elephant bulls are naturally solitary animals.[5]

Members of PREN have contributed to extensive research into elephant behaviour, cognition[6] and the neurological impacts of captivity[7].  There is growing evidence that elephants are one of the animals who suffer the most in captivity,[8] particularly in solitary confinement.[9]

Generally, elephants are not suited to captivity and Asian elephants are “prone to problems that include poor health, repetitive stereotypic behaviour and breeding difficulties”.[10] 

Maintaining a healthy elephant in a zoo requires a substantial financial commitment, this includes competent and constant management of the elephant’s diet[11], health care provision[12] as well as nurturing their mental wellbeing[13]. In addition, research has shown that despite efforts to provide enrichment at zoos, the needs of elephants are still compromised in captive environments.[14] Not only are captive elephants likely to acquire physical ailments that invariably shorten their lifespan,[15] they are also prone to developing psychological issues that can result in depression[16] and aggressive behaviour, particularly in the case of solitary bulls[17].

Elephants in the wild naturally cover long distances (typically 10-50-km) every day, while feeding on a rich variety of vegetation across different ecosystems. Their home ranges cover hundreds of square kilometres.[18] When elephants are restricted in a captive environment, they frequently develop musculoskeletal and cardiovascular conditions, which can prove fatal.[19] Elephants also requiremental stimulation[20]−their natural behaviours include mud wallowing, bathing, interacting with their companions[21] through touch, vocalisation and olfaction, mourning their dead[22] and countless other social behaviours[23].  Given their complex cognitive abilities, intelligence,[24] empathy[25] and sentience[26], elephants have a suite of emotional responses and physical behaviours.  When elephants are held in captivity, in undersized enclosure often in indoor confinement with inappropriate hard substrates and a lack of enrichment, this results in physical and psychological trauma, abnormal behaviour, and premature death.[27]

Stereotypy−the repetitive swaying and head-bobbing−is commonly seen in captive elephants. It is well known that these behaviours are caused by being held in unnatural, restrictive environments, and from exposure to psychological stress that has direct physiological consequences.[28]

The Ministerial Circular of 7th November 2009 (File 7-5/2007-CZA; Vol III), banned the keeping of elephants in Zoo collections in India.[29] PREN would therefore like to offer our collaborative expertise. Members of the Pro Elephant Network have participated in the successful relocation and reintegration of elephants, particularly solitary ones, into more natural environments[30] in Africa and Asia.

We are sure that you are aware of the recent relocation of Kaavan, formerly resident at the Islamabad Zoo, to a wildlife sanctuary in Cambodia.  This event made global news[31] and the international publicity positively highlighted the decisions taken by the administrators of Islamabad Zoo. 

Therefore, in summation, we respectfully urge you to explore possible remedies and engage with members of PREN to discuss solutions for the Zoo and for Shankar, so that his biological, psychological and social needs can be better met.

PREN welcomes further engagement on this subject matter and we look forward to hearing from you in this regard. 

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.