Pakistan eyes 10 Namibian elephants

11 October 2019 | Tourism

The environment ministry has received an application to export 10 elephants from Namibia to Pakistan.

This was confirmed by the ministry's spokesperson, Romeo Muyunda, who said the ministry was reviewing the application.

“There is no export permit from us as we speak,” said Muyunda.

A Pakistan daily newspaper, The Express Tribune, has reported that the Lahore High Court in Pakistan had directed the Punjab Environment Protection Department to issue a no-objection certificate (NOC) for importing an elephant for the Lahore Zoo.

“Earlier, Namibia's government had granted a licence for the animals, but the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) permit was not issued by the Pakistani government,” according to the newspaper.

Lahore Zoo's only female elephant, Suzi, died in May 2017. Since then it has been trying to procure another elephant for the zoo. In May this year it was reported that there were only five elephants in Pakistan - one Asian and four African elephants.

All four of the African elephants are at zoos in Karachi, while the Asian elephant is housed at Islamabad Zoo.

The Pakistan Animal Welfare Society and the Comprehensive Disaster Response Services (CDRS) animal welfare project have already indicated that they will petition the import of these elephants. Cites recently decided to impose a near-total ban on sending African elephants captured from the wild to zoos.

Representatives agreed that elephants should remain in their “natural and historical range in Africa, except in exceptional circumstances where … it is considered that a transfer to ex-situ locations will provide demonstrable in-situ conservation benefits for African elephants”.

In such cases decisions should only be made in consultation with the Cites animals committee and the International Union for Conservation of Nature elephant specialist group.

African elephants caught in the wild and already in zoos may be transferred to other facilities outside Africa.

However, the importing country must come up with solid reasons for procurement of wild animals and prove that the importer country has safe and friendly habitats for the elephants.

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ELLANIE SMIT