Gaborone – The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has given Namibia the thumbs up to commercially trade live elephants, potentially opening the door for other Southern African countries to do the same.
Countries like Zimbabwe have in recent years faced a backlash for commercially exporting elephants, and CITES’ approval of Namibia’s proposed sale of jumbos could make things easier for other countries in the region that have long complained about unsustainably large populations of the world’s largest land mammal.
CITES said Namibia’s trade in live African elephants would take place under Article III of the convention.
“Namibia assured the secretariat that the provisions in Article III will be fully complied with and that nothing will be traded outside the CITES requirements,” said CITES.
The organisation said live specimens from Namibia’s African elephant population would be traded “for in situ conservation programmes”.
CITES explained that live specimens from the Namibian African elephant population can be traded “for in situ conservation programmes” under Article IV.
Article III lays down the conditions for trade in Appendix I listed species, which are the most protected species. An export permit shall only be granted when:
- Scientific authority of the state of export has advised that such export will not be detrimental to the survival of that species;
- A management authority of the state of export is satisfied that the specimen was not obtained in contravention of the laws of that state for the protection of fauna and flora;
- A management authority of the state of export is satisfied that any living specimen will be so prepared and shipped as to minimise the risk of injury, damage to health or cruel treatment; and
- A management authority of the state of export is satisfied that an import permit has been granted for the specimen.
Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe have been lobbying CITES for years to be allowed to conduct controlled international sales of ivory, and in the absence of that some countries have opted for live animal sales.
In 2019, the SADC countries lost their battle to have elephants down listed from Appendix I to II, which would allow a limited ivory trade.