A Chinese ground crew has just arrived to prepare 33 baby elephants for imminent shipment to China, according to sources near Hwang National Park. These elephants have been held in captivity for nearly a year after being forcibly removed from their families.
This action constitutes a direct violation of the recent decision taken by the 18th Conference of the Parties (CoP18) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) that no elephants may be removed from their natural habitat or historic range.
Any exceptions to this ruling must demonstrate positive conservation benefit and be approved by the CITES Animals Committee and the IUCN African Elephant Specialist Group. It does not appear that the current export constitutes anything like an ‘exceptional circumstance’ as defined by CITES.
This shipment follows a recent case of 30 baby elephants exported in 2016, which generated international criticism and has brought the total number of baby elephants exported since 2012 to 108.
The capture of elephants from the wild for the purposes of captivity and trade is prohibited in SA under the National Norms and Standards for the Management of Elephants in South Africa (2008).