Court order sought over elephants
Court order sought over elephants

Court order sought over elephants

The environment ministry has filed an urgent court application to force a game-capturing company to return three elephants that were illegally transported to Mariental.
Ellanie Smit
The Ministry of Environment and Tourism has sought a court order against the owner of a game-capturing company at Mariental to force them to immediately return three elephants to where they were captured.

The elephants were illegally transported and are being kept in what the ministry describes as horrific conditions.

Both a criminal case and a civil case have been opened against Johan Lombaard to compel him to return the elephants to Eden Game Farm, a private game farm in the Grootfontein District.

Photos have surfaced of where the elephants have been kept for months in containers on a farm near Mariental. Lombaard and his brother Kobus are co-owners of Golden Game CC. They established the company in 2008 and have more than 20 years' game-capturing experience.

The elephants were kept by Lombaard on farms Geleksberg 82 Mariental and Frauenstein 277 Windhoek.

The three elephants bought by Lombaard form part of a group of five elephants which were earmarked for export to Dubai from Eden Game Farm.

Environment permanent secretary Malan Lindeque said all aspects of the situation were under investigation. According to him the three elephants were sold and captured by Lombaard at Eden Game Farm.

Two other elephants are being held at N/a'an ku sê.

He explained that all five elephants were initially kept at N/a'an ku sê but three of them were then transported to the farm near Mariental. The elephants at N/a'an ku sê have been released into a larger camp.

According to Lindeque, the ministry sought a court against Lombaard to compel him to return the elephants to Eden.

He said the ministry discovered that Lombaard had transported the elephants illegally, without a valid permit, and were keeping them in deplorable conditions.

According to him the ministry is still waiting for the matter to appear on the court roll, which should happen within a week.

Lindeque explained that Lombaard is not registered to capture large wild animals such as elephants. The place where he has kept the elephants was also not approved by the ministry.

Lindeque said the ministry has to approve the transport and the conditions in which animals are kept when they are sold.

“We have given the ultimatum to this person and he has failed to comply. A court order was sought to compel him to take the animals back and this is under way.”

Environment minister Pohamba Shifeta confirmed that Lombaard did not have a permit to transport the elephants from Eden.

He described the situation in which the animals were being kept at Lombaard's farm as horrific.

“First you need to apply for a permit and stipulate where the animals will be kept and whether the animal will be able to survive. We don't encourage that animals should be in captivity and will make this a law.”

Shifeta said at the most 1 000 hectares must be available where such animals can be kept.

Shifeta said the ministry had approached the attorney-general and sought an court order. “This is a very urgent case and calls for an urgent application.”

Since these elephants are privately owned, procedures have to be followed. “Animals have to be treated fairly. We have to look into the issues of how animals are being transported and treated in Namibia.”

Shifeta further said the ministry had not approved the export of the five elephants from Eden to Dubai.

“We have not checked whether the conditions and environment in that country will be conducive for the elephants. Apart from permission that was given by CITES for the export, the ministry did not give approval. They cannot leave this territory without my signature and permission.”

Shifeta said the reluctance of the ministry to give permission to export the elephants to Dubai was probably why the owner of Eden decided to sell them privately in Namibia.

“It is no joke keeping elephants. When we say they can't be exported to another country because they are kept in zoos and used in circuses, we cannot put Namibia's name to it.”

Earlier this year Namibian Sun reported that Namibia was planning to sell five baby elephants to a zoo in Dubai after a permit was issued to export these elephants to Dubai.

The ministry recently dismissed allegations and reports insinuating that the export of the five elephants from Namibia to a zoo in Dubai did not meet the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species on Fauna and Flora (CITES) criteria.

The elephants are aged between four and eight years and are owned by Eden Game Farm. Environment minister Pohamba Shifeta at that time told Namibian Sun that all CITES regulations had been met.

Lombaard could not be reached for comment yesterday.

ELLANIE SMIT

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Namibian Sun 2024-04-25

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