Namibia hit by criticism over elephants’ sale

Johannesburg: Namibia is expected to sell 170 wild elephants in an auction ending today because of disputed claims that growing herds are threatening people.

The animals, including rare desert elephants and calves, have been rounded up in remote northern areas over the past few weeks.

Elephants in Africa.Credit:Tusk/AP

The authorities have said that anyone can buy them as long as they meet strict criteria, including quarantine facilities and a game-proof fence certificate for the property where they will be kept.

In an advertisement for the “high-value” animals published last month, the environment ministry said: “Due to drought and increase in elephant numbers coupled with human-elephant conflict incidences, a need has been identified to reduce these populations.”

Conservationists dispute the claims of overpopulation because the animals are at risk of extinction globally through poaching, drought and habitat destruction. Namibia says it has more than 24,000 elephants, up from 7,500 in 1995. Wildlife experts argue that about two-thirds are part of herds that move between Namibia and its southern Africa neighbours, Angola, Zambia and Botswana.

More than 106,000 people have signed a petition calling for the sale to be cancelled.

The ministry defended the auction, saying the elephants would not be sold to zoos. “Only some circles of people, mostly foreigners, object to this. Namibians who are living with these elephants do not object to this,” a spokesman said.

“They appreciate we are going to sell. It is a relief to them as on a daily basis these people are at risk.“

Mark Hiley, of National Park Rescue, a conservation group, said: “These international elephants don’t belong to anyone and Namibia’s proposal to capture and exploit them is rightly being seen as a crime against nature.“

Telegraph, London

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