August has not been a good month for elephants in Namibia.
Last week, Born Free, along with colleagues from 10 other organisations, sent an urgent message to the Namibian ministry, asking them to immediately suspend all trophy hunting of the rare and unique desert-dwelling elephants. Regrettably, we received no response to this letter, not even an acknowledgement. We have since learned that 5 of these desert elephants have now been killed, for the purpose of decorating the trophy hunter’s living-room walls. Their lack of respect for such intelligent creatures is beyond words.
Sadly, the nightmare continues. Just this morning I read an article describing an elephant that was shot in Namibia’s Caprivi region. Apparently a well-known “problem animal” this elephant is reported to have been shot dead last week in front of a group of horrified tourists. It seems clear that something is seriously amiss with Namibia’s elephant management strategy. I don’t have any details other than those presented in the article, but I do intend to investigate this further.
Finally, Namibia’s authorities have just announced a complete ban on the sale of ivory ekipas (tourist trinkets), on the basis that current legislation is not effective in monitoring the sales. While this is, in itself, an excellent (and long overdue) step, I wonder why the international CITES community, who approved these sales in 2004, don’t appear concerned about this. Namibia told the CITES Parties in 2004 that it would develop a rigidly controlled registration system for these ekipas sales. Why, four years later, are they only just admitting that this never happened?