Two free-roaming elephants from the Eastern Cape have been relocated to a small barren enclosure in Joburg Zoo. The move cynically ignores over 300 000 signatures to public petitions and a letter from leading elephant management experts to break the cycle of captivity.
The elephants were sold to Joburg Zoo in a deal done behind closed doors. According to a sworn affidavit the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD), "issued no permits for the import and transportation of captive elephants into the province of Gauteng in the period from 1 December 2018 to 13 May 2019". GDARD is responsible for issuing moving permits for the elephants.
According to BAT, GDARD chose to hide information from the public, whom they are mandated to represent. "GDARD and the Johannesburg Zoo have clearly worked together to hide the truth from the public," they say.
No comment was received on when the permits were finally issued. The elephants arrived in Johannesburg on Thursday morning, 13 June.
Brett Mitchell, chairman of the Elephant Reintegration Trust (ERT), says it is a disaster waiting to happen. "These elephants were taken straight from a free-contact situation into a protected enclosure with no transitional period. There is no space in the enclosure, which is surrounded by a moat system which they have never had to deal with."