Urgent Letter Regarding Imminent Import of 33 Young Elephants to China

Elephant enclosures at the Beijing Zoo, China

China has recently made significant strides as a conservation champion, especially through its dedication to the ‘Ecological Civilisation’ programme and subsequent leadership decision to terminate domestic legal ivory markets. This has contributed to a laudable and growing reputation of China as a new champion of conservation, especially towards saving African elephants. However, the sale of baby elephants forcibly removed from their mothers and families (estimated at over 100 since 2012) in Zimbabwe to be sold to China has brought denunciation even from those who are typically in favour of so-called ‘sustainable use’.

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Urgent Letter regarding Imminent Export of 33 Young Elephants to China

Juvenile wild caught elephants have been kept in this pen for nine months

We are deeply concerned about the reportedly imminent export of some 33 juvenile wild-caught elephants from Zimbabwe to captive locations in China. Our concerns are based on our understanding of elephant biology, of international agreements and national legislation as well as public sentiment within Africa and more widely.

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Urgent Letter Regarding Import of Elephants to Pakistan from Africa

Suzi the elephant died at 31, still in her chains at Lahore Zoo, Pakistan

It has been reported in the press in Pakistan, confirmed by Punjab Wildlife Director Naeem Bhatti and confirmed by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism in Namibia that Pakistan has made an application to import 10 African elephants from Namibia to captive facilities in Pakistan.

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Urgent Letter re Proposed Export of Elephants from Namibia to Pakistan

Juvenile elephants were unlawfully taken from the wild to be traded

It has been reported in the press in both Pakistan and Namibia that Pakistan has made an application to import 10 African elephants from Namibia to captive facilities in Pakistan. This has also been confirmed by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.

Removing baby elephants from their families is increasingly recognised as an ethically and ecologically unacceptable practice. It is universally recognized that elephants are wide-ranging, vastly intelligent, sentient beings with a highly organised social structure including strong family bonds that can last a lifetime. Elephants also have basic needs for stimulating ecological and social environments, and for the freedom to exercise choice over their foraging options and companions. These needs cannot be met under captive conditions and elephants so deprived inevitably suffer from physical and mental pathologies.

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Indaba of Experts concludes that Elephants should not be in Captivity

Chairperson’s Summary Report and Recommendations

On 6 September 2019, the EMS Foundation, convened an international Indaba and Panel Discussion with national and international elephant behavioural specialists in Hermanus, Western Cape, South Africa, to discuss the issue of elephants in captivity and to develop a framework as well as policy guidelines for dealing with elephants in captivity.

The Indaba was the first consultative gathering of elephant specialists and elephant interest groups in Africa specifically dealing with elephants in captivity, the role Africa has in sending elephants into captivity and what we need to do to get them out of the metaphorical room.

In order to enable frank exploration of the issues and practical proposals, the Indaba was conducted under the Chatham House Rule and with a number of “ground rules” which aimed to ensure open, respectful dialogue, and maximum participation.

The overwhelming message was that elephants belong in the wild and must be returned to the wild in all cases where this is a legitimate possibility. Given whatwe know about who elephants are and the conditions under which they thrive, thereis no reason to keep them in captivity.

This Summary Report, which has been prepared by the overall Chairperson (Dr Don Pinnock) of the Indaba together with the Rapporteur (Dr Ross Harvey), provides a brief overview of the themes discussed and its outcomes, and is in no way reflective of all views articulated during the meeting.

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