Breaking! Despite Public Outrage, Namibia Moves Forward With Their Controversial Plan To Auction Off 170 Wild Elephants

This morning, WAN was shocked to read the official statement from the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism of Namibia in response to their controversial auction of 170 wild elephants. We were appalled by the attacks against conservationists and the animal welfare community who have worked so hard to protect and save the elephants from being auctioned off for so-called ‘conservation’ and financial gain. 

Reportedly, while the details of the elephant auction have yet to be publicly shared, the travesty took place on January 29th despite over 100,000 concerned petitioners who have urged the Namibian government and the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism to stop its plan.

The population of Namibia’s elephants is estimated to be only 24,000, but in comparison to neighboring countries like Botswana, which has 130,000, Zimbabwe, which has 80,000, and Zambia, which has 50,000, Namibia’s elephant population is still very low despite their claim that it has tripled since 1995.

Conservationists argue that the government’s numbers are inflated and fail to factor in elephant migration. They estimate that between 73%-84% of the government’s quoted elephant population figure consists of transboundary elephants, those moving between Namibia, Angola, Zambia, and Botswana. They put the resident elephant population in Namibia at only 5,688. They are worried that with 170 elephants being auctioned off, that Namibia will be losing 3% of its elephant population.

The Namibian government said in a statement that the ‘offtake’ of the 170 wild Namibian elephants is extremely ‘conservative’ and below sustainable ‘offtake’ levels. The government does not define the term ‘offtake’ or specify what will happen to the elephants who are auctioned off. This leads us to believe that the elephants will be auctioned off to trophy hunters.

The Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism of Namibia announced in a statement on February 1st, that the money made from the auction will be deposited into the Game Product Trust Fund this week to be used for so-called wildlife ‘conversation’ and rural development projects. There has also been speculation that the government is making room for extensive oil drilling in Namibia’s Okavango Basin.

Meanwhile, elephants being one of the most intelligent species on the planet with very strong family bonds and groups will be torn apart at the hands of the Namibian government. Tragically, bull elephants, mothers, and their babies, will likely be killed, all for money and greed.

The Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism of Namibia is defending the elephant auction as a way to mitigate human-wildlife conflict, to control their small elephant population, and raise money for ‘conservation.’ Ironic, considering a 2019 bribery scandal resulting in the imprisonment of the Ministers of Justice and Fisheries has raised major concerns about the controversial auction.

Namibia was among three African nations denied permission to sell off its stock of ivory by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Those who vetoed the appeal said they feared the one-off sale would create a sharp increase in the demand for ivory and a spike in poaching. 

It is shocking that the Government of Namibia has moved forward with their plan to auction off wild elephants, and also made false accusations in a statement on February 1st about conservationists and the animal welfare community. Regardless of the unwarranted attack, we must continue to fight to protect Africa’s last iconic species for their future and the future of our planet.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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