Erindi sells elephants to billionaire Sardarov

An entire herd of 13 elephants was moved by truck from Erindi to Dordabis last week.

26 May 2021 | Environment

ELLANIE Smit

WINDHOEK

A herd of 13 elephants has been bought, captured and moved from the Erindi Private Game Reserve to the Marula Game Ranch near Dordabis, which is owned by Russian billionaire Rashid Sardarov.

The massive operation happened last week after Marula initially bought seven elephants from Erindi in 2016 during an auction of the private game ranch.

The general manager of Marula Game Ranch, Johan Kotze, told Namibian Sun there were several delays which resulted in the elephants being unable to be transported to Marula. However, the operation finally became a reality last week Thursday.

According to Kotze due to the delays there were therefore breeding of the elephants and because it was a family herd, they did not want to split up the elephants. At the end of the day, they had a group of 13 elephants which was captured and transported from the initial seven that they bought.

Kotze said some of the reasons for the operation being delayed were the prolonged drought and because their fence was not yet elephant proof at that time.

Kotze elaborated on the operation saying that although they started on Thursday morning and the elephants were settled in at Marula that evening, it was a huge undertaking.

Mammoth task

He said that about 60 people were involved which included environment ministry staff and officials from the protected resource unit which oversaw the operation.

Furthermore, special permits were needed for the movement and transport of the elephants while they also needed four crane trucks, a helicopter and two private veterinarians were also on sight.

“All the elephants arrived safely and there were no injuries.”

He said there was no need to keep them in bomas at Marula as they seemed calm and were released as soon as they arrived and were adjusting very well in their new environment.

Private property

Meanwhile, Colgar Sikopo director of the Department of Natural Resources Management, has dismissed allegations that these elephants are state owned and not privately owned by Erindi.

“These elephants are not from Khaudum National Park, or ministry elephants,” he said.

In July 2013, Erindi was awarded the contract to relocate 100 elephants from Khaudum National Park, which were offered to them on a lease of ten years.

Sikopo said this lease agreement is still in place and the ministry ensured that it was not their elephants being sold. According to him Erindi had elephants prior to the Khaudum elephants and therefore through markings on their ears they were able to check which elephants were captured and transported to Marula.

He also said that all permits were in place for the operation and that the ministry was satisfied that the elephants are being kept at a proper facility. Sikopo said the permits Marula applied for were for 15 elephants and they can therefore capture and transport two more elephants.

Marula Game Ranch is situated on a nearly 50 000-hectare reserve.

Kotze previously told Namibian Sun said the ranch boasted with 7 500 species including antelope, giraffe, zebra, crocodiles, hippos, cheetah and other protected species.

Sardarov is the chairman and founder of Comsar Energy Group and South-Ural Industrial Company (SUIC), both of which are large private companies in Russia, with a presence in several countries in Eastern Europe. The assets of the companies amount to US$2.2 billion, according to the SUIC website.

He is described as a flamboyant Russian oligarch with interests in energy businesses, property, aviation, hospitality and hunting wildlife for fun.

He is among the high-profile businesspeople who were exposed in the so-called Panama Papers leak, which revealed how the rich create offshore shell companies in tax havens to avoid paying taxes, conceal their riches and even engage in crimes such as money laundering.

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