Elephants in Captivity Under the Spotlight: Taking Elephants out of the Room

ln Hermanus on 6 September, at the Municipal Auditorium, elephant specialists from around Africa and the world participated in a conference, Taking Elephants out of the Room, to begin the process of dealing with issues of their captivity, welfare and the ethics of confining these sentient creatures. The aim was to create a framework within which to assess the ‘imprisonment’ of captive elephants and to set standards for their ethical treatment.



No governance, no science and no sustainability in South Africa’s captive lion breeding industry

It has been clear for a long time that – to put it euphemistically – there has been a catastrophic absence of governance in South Africa’s captive lion breeding industry. The national Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) is tone-deaf to the global scientific community’s abhorrence of the industry. A strong indicator of zero governance is that DEFF repeatedly says that it does not know how many lions are in captivity in South Africa and how many facilities are involved in the various immoral activities associated with the industry (such as unregulated slaughter for the lion bone market). For this reason, in May 2019 the EMS Foundation submitted a request under the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), no. 2 of 2000 to get an answer to these questions.



It’s not a Numbers Game

New Science Reveals that Hunting and Killing Elephants is Not a Useful Tee-protection Mechanism

The shooting of elephants is often defended on the grounds that it provides conservation benefits that could not otherwise be achieved. For instance, not all conservation areas are amenable to photographic tourism, which means that they require other sources of funding to prevent the conversion of that wilderness landscape to agriculture whether that be through culling or trophy hunting. This argument is likely reflective of a false dichotomy, but that is not the subject of this article. Another argument typically offered in favour of culling elephants  is that elephants destroy large trees, which has negative cascading ecological effects. The natural order of vegetation is ostensibly upended, and other species suffer as a result.



Access to Information Request Reveals that South Africa holds 77 tonnes of Stockpiled Ivory: This is Untenable

South Africa doesn’t make its ivory stockpile numbers publicly known, so in May 2019 the EMS Foundation submitted a request under the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), no. 2 of 2000. In response, the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) revealed that the national ivory stockpile held by government bodies is nearly 77 tonnes. The majority of this ivory is held by South Africa National Parks (SANParks), with the remainder split between other government bodies that manage ivory. Of the total tonnage, 50 tonnes are comprised of ‘management’ ivory, which includes ivory removed from ‘culled’ elephants, natural mortality or ‘damage causing animals’. A further 15.8 tonnes are confiscations, while 10.9 tonnes fall into the ‘unknown’ category. Private ivory stockpiles also feature a remarkable 8.9 tonnes, 7.3 of which are ‘management’, while 1.6 are of ‘unknown’ origin.



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