THE EMS FOUNDATION URGES THE NAMIBIAN GOVERNMENT TO COME CLEAN ABOUT THE CAPTURE, ISOLATION AND SALE OF WILD ELEPHANTS

PUBLIC STATEMENT

Sunday 13th February 2022

On the 4th of January 2021, the Pro Elephant Network publicly expressed their concerns with regard to the tender notice published on the 3rd December 2020        by the state owned New Era Namibian newspaper from the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism.

The tender notice was for the sale of 170 wild elephants from four commercial breeding areas in the north of Namibia.  PREN urged the Namibian government to withdraw the tender notice and offered expert assistance with identifying and implementing solutions for human wildlife conflict, drought mitigation and perceived concerns of overpopulation of elephants in Namibia. 

On the 11th August 2021, the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism in Namibia announced that 57 elephants of the 170 which were put on tender in December 2020 were sold.  They confirmed that 42 elephants will be exported from Namibia.

By October 2021, some members of PREN received reliable information that indicated that the selection and capture of the elephants had taken place and that the elephants were being held in quarantine in preparation for export.  The information suggested that a South African wildlife broker was involved in the process.  The information further alleged that the wild caught elephants were destined for captive locations in the United Arab Emirates.

The EMS Foundation obtained a Legal Opinion which stated that it would not be lawful for the Namibian CITES Management Authority to issue an export permit under either Appendix I or Appendix II of CITES and that, similarly, it would not be lawful for a country outside of the range states for Loxodonta Africana to issue an import permit. 

On the 12th of February 2022, John Grobler, a well-known and internationally published, Namibian investigative journalist was arrested and charged with trespassing under Ordinance 3 of 1962.  According to John Grobler, he was arrested for allegedly flying a drone over a farm in Gobabis in Namibia, owned by GoHunt Namibia Safaris owner, Gerrie Odendaal, where 23 wild, captured elephants with two new born calves, are allegedly being held. 

The EMS Foundation is concerned at the lack of transparency by the Namibian government.  The EMS Foundation fails to understand why the processes of the capture, of the quarantine and the export and import of these elephants has not been transparent if no laws have been broken. 

The EMS Foundation cannot possibly condone the heavy-handed approach of the Namibian government towards John Grobler.  

The capture of free roaming wild elephants is a matter of national interest, general public concern and importance.  This is a subject of legitimate global news interest.  This is an example where an individual has intervened by taking a public interest action and attempted to disclose questionable behaviour by others. 

Image Credit: Ariadne van Zandbergen (Desert Elephant with young crossing, the Huab River)

©The EMS Foundation 2022. All Rights Reserved.

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WHERE HAVE ALL THE RHINO GONE REPORT

A SOUTH AFRICAN RETROSPECTIVE RESEARCH PROJECT

PUBLISHED DECEMBER 2021

EXCERPTS FROM THE REPORT:

PREFACE

On the 22nd of September 2021−World Rhino Day−the acting head of South African National Parks, Dr Luthando Dziba, said that there may be fewer than 3000 rhinoceroses left in the Kruger National Park. Dziba also confirmed that South Africa’s rhino population had declined by nearly two-thirds in just ten years.

The primary threat to rhinos is human demand for their horns which are sold on the black markets of Southeast Asia as aphrodisiacs, so-called traditional medicine or as a status symbol.

Only a decade ago South Africa was home to the world’s largest population of White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum) and Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis), this equated to approximately 90% of the global population of southern white rhino and 36% of the world’s black rhino population.

Since 2008 there has been a cataclysmic increase in the number of rhinos killed for their horn. The reported number of rhinos killed for their horn in South Africa since 2008 is 9067.

The number of white rhinos living in South Africa’s flagship national park, the Kruger National Park declined by 60.42% in just a six-year period, from an estimated 8,968 in 2013 to an estimated 3,549 in 2019, while the black rhino population fell by 57.25% in a 10-year period, from an estimated 627 in 2009 to an estimated 268 in 2019.1

The data contained in the first chapter of this report illustrates the confusing and in concise figures regarding the official rhino population figures that have been reported and repeated over the past twenty years.

What happened to the Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP) for white rhino−a draft of which was gazetted for comment in March 2015? The announced target was aligned to the escalating poaching statistics. The world was informed by the South African government that a realistic achievable goal of a meta-population of at least 20 400 white rhinos in South Africa was entirely achievable for the year 2020, this bearing in mind that 1349 rhino were poached in 2015.

Where Have All the Rhino Gone, is a compilation of, and expansion on, the work previously carried out by researchers and investigative journalists over the past two decades. The Information contained in this retrospective report sets out to illustrate the questionable decisions that have been made over the past two decades regarding the protection and conservation of South Africa’s rhino.

The content of this report is limited to the past two decades, the time period that will forever be marked by a magnitude of government corruption and the capture and destruction of the South African justice system. It would be foolish to believe that South Africa’s environmental sector and the conservation and protection of wildlife that resides within it, has remained unscathed.

South Africa is meant to be responsible for the protection and conservation of the majority of the world’s remaining rhinos. In order to establish just what the ‘majority’ means in a reliable numerical format we would need to obtain absolute accurate data from all the African rhino range states and South Africa as a matter of priority.

The scientific advisory organisations should be urged to recommend to the United Nations that there should be a global moratorium on the trade and hunting of all rhinos until it can be established, unequivocally, how many rhinos exist in Africa today.

There can no longer be any debate−the next decade is critical for the survival of the species, and this needs to take place within a revised policy framework which foregrounds protection, welfare, well-being and a one health approach.

CONCLUSION

The EMS Foundation is a South African based social justice NGO established in November 2016. Our key purpose is to alleviate and end suffering, raise public awareness and lobby and empower, provide dignity and promote the rights and interests of vulnerable groups, particularly children, the elderly and wild animals.

The EMS Foundation is committed to contributing to the improvement of wildlife governance. With an area of nearly two million hectares, the Kruger National Park situated in the north of South Africa is one of the continents largest game reserves. The South African government is responsible for the care and protection of the world’s largest remaining white and black rhino populations. The current estimated numbers of black and white rhinos in South Africa’s flagship national park are extremely concerning.

This report has highlighted the fact that hundreds of rhinos were knowingly exported from the Kruger National Park to trophy hunters, some of whom ignited the rhino horn trade in Vietnam. Rhinos were also exported to zoos whilst at the same time thousands of rhinos were being illegally killed in the Kruger National Park.

Close examinations of the agreements made with hunters, by investigators, has revealed that anomalies were overlooked in order to facilitate the acquisition of the rhinos.

Furthermore, in 2019 the National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers accused the Kruger National Park of perpetuating nepotism, corruption and maladministration. It was alleged that the outsourcing of services at SANParks was organised to enrich a few individuals.

This report has highlighted and expanded upon, what investigative journalists highlighted many years ago about State Capture and the Kruger National Park. They ask, as do we, what policies and procedures does SANParks have in place to avoid real or perceived conflicts of interests specifically involving holders of high political office in its spending?

We all argue that SANParks has a duty to avoid repeating the same mistakes, although an organ of government, SANParks is reliant on revenue generated from consumers. We are disheartened to learn of the large financial contribution being withdrawn because of maladministration.

On the 2nd May 2021, when Minister Creecy released the High Level Panel Report −which reviewed policies, legislation and practises related to the management, breeding, hunting, trade and handling of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros− she made the 2nd of May 2021, Minister Creecy released the Report of the High-Level Panel of Experts, the Minister made the following statement:

“Despite South Africa’s reputation as a global leader in conservation, there are still reported incidents and perceptions of irresponsible, unethical and unsustainable conservation practices in the management, breeding, hunting, trade and handling of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros, especially in terms of animal welfare and well-being, that negatively affect the country’s conservation reputation and do not bode well for the country’s international standing and development objectives.”

Notwithstanding the alarming figures that have been released of the vastly diminished rhino populations in South Africa, on the 8th of October 2021 the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment released a government gazette notice on the proposed hunting and or export of elephant, black rhinoceros and leopard hunting trophies for the 2021 calendar year.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Queen Elizabeth II once said:

“To all those who have suffered as a consequence of our troubled past, I extend my sincere thoughts and deep sympathy. With the benefit of historical hindsight we can all see things which we would wish had been done differently, or not at all.

©The EMS Foundation 2021. All Rights Reserved.No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without permission from the EMS Foundation in writing.

Legal Disclaimer: The mention of any individual, company, organisation or other entity in this research report does not imply the violation of any law or international agreement, and should not be construed as such. Refer to the full disclaimer in the Report.

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AN INADEQUATE AND DISAPPOINTING OFFICIAL RESPONSE TO THE BREAKING POINT REPORT

The EMS Foundation and Ban Animal Trading, authors of the investigative report called the Breaking Point Report: Uncovering South Africa’s Shameful Live Wildlife Trade with China, the second in the Extinction Business series, have expressed their disappointment at the inadequate official response from the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment in an open communication.

The Report published in 2020, highlighted the fundamental problems which are systemic in nature and relate to overarching policy issues. At the time, the authors welcomed the Minister’s commitment to investigating the serious issues raised in the Report.

The matter of the Report related to South Africa’s legal wildlife trade with China, at the time of the publication in the Minister committed to investigate the serious issues raised in the Report, within a three-month period and committed to: strengthening the permitting system, greater transparency within governmental systems and access to information. The Minister also acknowledged that civil society has a role to play in holding government to account and therefore government should be transparent.

READ THE FULL COMMUNICATION:

Image Credit: Smaragda Louw / South African Rhino in Chinese Zoo

©The EMS Foundation 2021. All Rights Reserved.

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DINOKENG GAME RESERVE PLANS TO KILL A MATRIARCH

THE EMS FOUNDATION STATEMENT

2ND DECEMBER 2021

BACKGROUND

Dinokeng Game Reserve is a 21000 hectare wildlife reserve in the Gauteng province, South Africa. It was officially opened on the 22nd September 2011 by the Gauteng Provincial Government to promote ecotourism and job creation involving more than 170 landowners. The government owns 4000 hectares of the reserve.  Dinokeng is situated one hour from Johannesburg and whilst it sounds idyllic the reserve is situated next to densely populated impoverished town called Hammanskraal.

FENCED IN

The NGO Elephants Rhinos and People conducted a survey on 94 of the internal landowner fences and the perimeter fence at Dinokeng.  The results of this survey concluded that the requirements recommended in the National Elephants Norms and Standards were not fulfilled. 

In 2014 it was reported that Dinokeng Game Reserve did not have sufficient funds to maintain the permitter fence. 

On the 17th of April 2017 it was reported that a herd of elephants had escaped from Dinokeng Game Reserve. 

Dinokeng’s Elephant Management Plan 2018 states that all the aforementioned fences would be upgraded in 2022 in order to adequately fence their elephant population.  Dinokeng Game Enterprises Chairman Etienne Toerien confirmed that much of the fencing within the property was not up to standard, leaving elephants to break through properties inside Dinokeng. 

A HISTORY OF QUESTIONABLE ELEPHANT MANAGEMENT

Dinokeng Game Reserve is a small reserve with an extremely high density of human activity.  In light of the fact that so many elephants have been killed at Dinokeng, we have to question their expertise and experience with regard to managing elephants.  It is quite evident that they do not understand the complexities of elephant behaviour or herd social dynamics.

A media report in 2018 revealed that Elephants, Rhinos and People had withdrawn their elephant monitoring services from Dinokeng. This is after the management of Dinokeng had applied for two Damage-Causing Animal permits to have two elephant bulls killed. A representative of ERP stated that the landowners on Dinokeng were hindering proper elephant management.

Three elephants have already been killed at Dinokeng Game Reserve.  In November 2016 a young bull elephant was shot without the required approval.  A young female elephant was also illegally shot leaving her injured, she was then misidentified by Dinokeng vet Dr Jacques O’Dell during a collaring an immobilisation process which eventually killed her. A bull elephant known as Hot Stuff was killed using a Damage Causing Animal permit. 

On the 5th August 2019 the Elephant Specialist Advisory Group  issued a statement with regard to the acquisition of eleven elephants by the Dinokeng Game Reserve in Gauteng. The scientific experts representing ESAG placed on record that they did not support the introduction of the proposal to introduce these elephants until such a time as the Dinokeng Management proved that they can adequately manage and monitor their existing elephants, maintain their fences to the required standard.

KILLING A MATRIARCH

The management at Dinokeng Game Reserve failed to engage with elephant experts with regard to their management of the elephants.  

A notice was sent to the Dinokeng Game Reserve landowners stating that the matriarch elephant at Dinokeng is going to be killed today, 2nd December 2021. 

The Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development confirmed that they have issued a permit to kill the Matriarch and that it has not been rescinded. 

The planned killing of this elephant who apparently also has a young calf is likely to be challenged as it is also likely that it is in contravention of the Norms and Standards for Management of Elephants in South Africa.

Image Credit :
https://www.tripadvisor.co.za/Attraction_Review-g2140845-d2195392-Reviews-Dinokeng_Game_Reserve-Hammanskraal_Gauteng.html

©The EMS Foundation 2021. All Rights Reserved.

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CONTROVERSIAL SEISMIC OIL AND GAS SURVEYANCE IN SOUTH AFRICA

THE EMS FOUNDATION PROBES THE HISTORIC BACKGROUND TO THE DEAL FOR DEEP-WATER SEISMIC OIL AND GAS SURVEYANCE

INTRODUCTION

South Africa is the 12th worst emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. A large South Africa delegation attended the Climate Change COP26 Conference held between the 31st October and 12th November 2021in Glasgow in the United Kingdom.  South Africa’s substantial agenda was to access international finance for investments that are needed in order for the country to transition from its  reliance on fossil fuels.

Scientists have proved that in order to keep global warming below 1.5C, to mitigate the current global climate crisis, we have to leave the vast majority of fossil fuels untouched.   

In steep contradiction to the mandate of the legally binding international treaty on climate change, the Paris Agreement, which was adopted by 196 Parties at COP21 on the 12th December 2015, South Africa has granted permission to Royal Dutch Shell to conduct deep-water seismic oil and gas surveyance of two massive offshore areas which stretch all the way from the Eastern Cape to the Mozambique maritime border. 

Climate change activists have recently won a big legal victory against oil giant Shell, who has a result been forced to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030 based on 2019 levels.  Friends of the Earth International stated: “Our hope is that this verdict will trigger a wave of climate litigation against big polluters, to force them to stop extracting and burning fossil fuels.”

The administrators of South African Presidential Climate Commission and the authors of the Climate Change Bill have not, according to our research, objected to the deep-water seismic oil surveyance of two massive offshore areas which stretch all the way from the Eastern Cape to the Mozambique maritime border.

Why did the South African government choose to ignore a coalition of eight civil society groups who asked that ties be severed with Myanmar because of their continued human rights abuses? This plea, is in light of the controversial deal with the Silver Wave Energy Company, which is linked to the Myanmar regime.  A deal controversially concluded during the Zuma regime.

Diplomatic information published on WikiLeaks shows that the Silver Wave Energy Company, though registered in Singapore, has close ties to the Burmese regime. 

Questions were raised in the media in 2011 about this aforementioned deal when it was uncovered that Burma’s ambassador to South Africa provided top officials with gifts, these officials apparently included Jacob Zuma and Kgalema Motlanthe.  

Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s former President, has been charged with corruption linked to a 1990’s arms deal where he is accused of accepting 783 illegal payments. 

Did the present South African government examine every aspect of this controversial deal in light of the before they approved the license’s second renewal period in July 2020? 

State Capture commission of inquiry highlighted the abuse of political power in South Africa.  We have been shown that you do not have to be a politician to hold political power you can influence political developments by buying politicians. 

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