Animal organizations worldwide are outraged after learning that the Namibian government had given permission to a Swedish national game farm owner to capture and export five wild young elephants to Dubai.
According to allAfrica.com, an open letter was addressed to Johan Hansen of Eden Wildlife, requesting that he ‘immediately and permanently halt plans” to send the elephants to Dubai Safari Park in the United Arab Emirates. Humane Society International (HSI) wrote the letter that was reportedly co-signed by 35 other animal welfare organizations.
Concerns quickly spread as sources suggested that the animals would be used to give visitors elephant rides at the tourist attraction, which more often than not requires cruel and inhumane practices including using physical restraints and withholding food and water.
“Whether they are born in captivity or stolen from the wild, elephants must be emotionally and mentally broken before people can climb onto their backs,” PETA explained on its website as it painfully described how baby elephants are torn away from their protective and frantic mothers in order to rob them of their independence and spirit.
While trading wild elephants for commercial purposes is also illegal as per the terms of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species on Fauna and Flora (Cites) specifications, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism reportedly dismissed allegations that the export did not meet these criteria and declared that the transaction was strictly for population management.
“Ethically responsible elephant scientists and preserve managers know that capturing and selling elephant calves is not a humane or efficient population management measure, as the Namibian government claims,” Audrey Delsink, executive director for HSI/Africa stated in response to the news. “Rather, it is a false pretense to make financial gains that have no conservation benefits.”
Conservationists question the country’s approach to sustainable wildlife management and the policing of poaching; especially since Namibia abstained from the Great Elephant Count (GEC) and attempted to remove trade restrictions at the recent Cites CoP17 meeting.
The independent non-profit conservation and environmental group Earth Organization reportedly went so far as to declare that the country was “fast becoming the next hotbed for wildlife crime.”
At this time, the Conservation Action Trust has reported that it is not known yet whether the young elephants have indeed already been captured and shipped to Dubai. While it has requested information, the Ministry of Environment has yet to respond.
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