Namibia readies to sell 3% of its last elephants despite public refusal.

Namibian government's notice posted in the newspaper for auction.


The Namibian government is ready for the sale of around 170 live wild elephants. This includes the rare desert-adapted elephants as well. The elephants will go to the highest bidders. No amount of petition, pressure, and international condemnation is efficacious. This sale will cause Namibia to lose 3% of its last elephants.

The notice for sales was posted in The Namibian newspaper in early December 2020. The deadline for the bids was on January 29, 2021. It published by the Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism.

The Ministry says apart from overcrowding, the sale will curb human-wildlife conflict. Local conservationists refute the statement by the government. It is a claim which ignores set rules for protecting both rural residents and wildlife.

Over 100,000 concerned petitioners have urged the authorities to take back its plan. Yet, the Namibian government has announced that the said sale will remain in action.

Many of the targeted elephants are from transnational herds that migrate across countries. These do not belong to any particular country for their exploitation or slaughter.

Namibia's proposal to capture and exploit them is a crime against nature, says Mark Hiley, operations director of National Park Rescue. 95% of Africa's elephants have been slaughtered in the last 100 years. There remains only a small number of these herds now. Hiley adds that the Namibian government has been falsifying the statistics. They refuse to take part in the official census. The authorities use unscientific algorithms and deliberate counts. Namibia government is under huge suspicion.

Researchers had proposed several initiatives designed to successfully reduce human-elephant conflict. Setting up elephant water points away from human settlements. Installing electrified fencing, supporting and increasing elephant migratory corridors were some of the ideas. But the Namibian government refused against such proposals brought up before them.

Neil Greenwood, regional director for Southern Africa has stated that the effective way out is to work with communities to ensure the habitats are managed properly. Solutions found to ensure wildlife and people alongside them are protected. Taking these steps has proved successful throughout the years.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) said the government proposal will not address the human-elephant conflict.

According to conservationists, a public auction might be for a show. The bid might help them justify a pre-planned cull of these last elephants. It might be sold to unknown hunters under the country's "damage-causing animals" classification. The government might have already sold hunting licenses to the buyers.

The close of the auction comes at a time when elephants are extinct in 29 African countries. Increasing human populations, shrinking habitat and migratory routes are damaging to elephant life. Poaching and government-sanctioned exploitation also impose a great threat to the remaining ones.

The elephants which Namibia is trying to sell is a part of the population in decline. In one incident, 30 elephant carcasses were spotted along the Linyanti River in November 2020.

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