No more live wild-caught African elephant trade – for now!

18 November 2022


Global wildlife trade regulator votes for a moratorium on exports of live wild-caught African elephants.

After a long and complex debate, Africa’s elephants were finally given some respite when the Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) voted in favour of a temporary moratorium on further exports of live wild elephants at its Conference of the Parties in Panama.

Since 2010, at least 216 live, wild-caught African elephants from southern African countries have been extracted from their family groups and exported to captive facilities outside their natural range. Many of these animals have subsequently died or are being maintained in terrible captive conditions.

Born Free has long campaigned to an end to this trade, but the complex rules applying to trade in elephants from different African countries have allowed the likes of Namibia and Zimbabwe to exploit loopholes, enabling them to continue capturing young elephants from wild populations and shipping them off to zoos far from their native lands.

Reacting to the vote, Born Free’s co-founder and Executive President Will Travers OBE said: “The capture of young wild elephants and their export to zoos serves no conservation purpose. Rather it disrupts elephant family groups and wider populations and condemns exported animals to a miserable and often foreshortened life in inappropriate captive facilities. We have long urged CITES to bring a permanent end to this cruel and heinous trade, but previous CITES decisions have been dogged by inconsistencies and loopholes. We therefore very much welcome today’s decision which was supported by an overwhelming majority of governments here in Panama and urge all elephant range countries to abide by this important moratorium.”

The moratorium will apply while elephant range countries deliberate on a clear and permanent legal framework for trade in live African elephants. A proposal is expected at the next Conference of the Parties (CoP20) in three years’ time.

Travers concluded: “We must never lose sight of that fact that we are talking about living elephants. They are not statistics, not inert commercial products, but one of the most complex, social, non-human species on the planet. They should never be subject to commercial trade. We will continue to work to ensure the ban is made permanent.”


Image by Anita on Pixabay