Windhoek - Namibia has exported 22 of the 37 auctioned elephants to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that were sold as part of conservation efforts amid an increase in population and rising cases of human-wildlife conflict involving elephants in the southern African nation.
“The elephants arrived in UAE early on Saturday morning and are reported to be doing well except for one cow which is seemingly weak," the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism spokesperson Romeo Muyunda said on Sunday. "All the auctioned elephants were sold to Namibian bidders, thus the export of elephants was not the ministry's decision.”
The increase in the elephant population has resulted in a surge in human-wildlife conflicts, which Muyunda says has put pressure on the ministry’s responsibility as it tries to strike a balance between protecting high-value species such as elephants and rhinoceros while managing the danger they pose when they encroach on areas of human habitation.
From 2019 to 2021, the country recorded 960 cases of crop damage of which 923 were caused by elephants, and four people were killed in elephant attacks, Muyunda said, adding that the majority of people in communal areas depend on small-scale crop farming for their survival and any disruptions affect them severely.
In December 2021, Namibia put 170 “high value” wild elephants up for sale and has so far auctioned 57, of which 37 had been captured.
Fifteen of the captured elephants were relocated locally and 22 others were exported, while the remaining 20 are still to be captured.