The Namibian government on Friday, January 22, 2021 said it was going ahead with plans to auction 170 high value wild elephants on January 29 due to drought and an increase in elephant numbers, despite objection from conservation groups.
The drought-prone southwest African nation announced last December that an increase in incidents of human-elephant conflict had motivated the sale of the large mammal that is at risk of extinction due to poaching and ecological factors.
The government said it would auction the animals to anyone in Namibia or abroad who could meet the strict criteria, which include quarantine facilities and a game-proof fence certificate for the property where the elephants will be kept.
Several online petitions from animal rights groups and conservationists have since gained traction, calling on the Namibian government to stop its planned sell-off of entire herds to the highest bidder.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), a global non-profit helping animal and people thrive together, said selling the elephants will not solve problems of human-elephant conflict (HEC) and is contrary to the guidance of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), of which Namibia is a member.
“Selling elephants will not prevent HEC.
“The most effective way to mitigate the problem of conflict is by working with communities to ensure habitats are managed properly and solutions found to ensure wildlife and the people who live alongside them are protected,“ Neil Greenwood, IFAW regional director for southern Africa, said.
“This has been proven time and again throughout southern Africa.’’
Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism spokesperson Romeo Muyunda, however, said Namibia would not allow communities living with elephants to suffer for the emotions of people that do not understand the situation on the ground.
“The ministry is doing the right thing for conservation,” he said.
Namibia’s conservation drive, which has seen its elephant population jump from around 7,500 in 1995 to 24,000 in 2019, according to government figures, has largely enjoyed international support.