Namibias Dirty Deal: Selling 170 live elephants to clear the way for oil drilling?
Jan 3, 2021 —
Namibias Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT) shocks the world with a horrifying plan: 170 live elephants are up for sale – possibly to make way for extensive oil drilling in one of the most precious regions of our planet, the Okavango Basin. If the plan comes through, the elephants will be torn from their natural habitat, relocated and possibly even exported.
The proposed sale affects 170 elephants from four different regions, including the rare desert adapted elephants as well as 23 bulls. The official reasons given by MEFT are stated as follows: “Due to drought and increase in elephant numbers coupled with Human-Elephant conflict incidences, a need has been identified to reduce these populations.”
There is however no evidence whatsoever of an increase in elephant numbers – on the contrary. “Indications were that the population is in decline, with Namibia suffering a prolonged drought that has decimated game populations and caused sporadic outbreaks of anthrax that has of late caused large die-offs in the Linyanti-Chobe elephant population.”, according to John Grobler.  The results of an aerial survey of elephant numbers in 2019 were never made public, and Namibia also refused to take part in the Great Elephant Census which was carried out in 2015.
As regards Human-Elephant Conflict (HEC), there are a number of tested and successful strategies that could be implemented to resolve these incidents. Just recently stakeholders in Namibia have agreed to various measures to mitigate HEC, such as “…the provision of elephant water points away from villages, electric fencing and elephant corridors which would obviate any necessity for translocation.” Also, Namibia is receiving large sums from other countries to support the conservation of nature, for example 70 million US $ since September 2019.
A completely different reason for the intended sale of the last free-roaming elephants in certain areas suggests itself in the light of the exploratory oil-drilling that has begun in northern Namibia. The Canada-based oil and gas company ReconAfrica holds exploration licences for an area of more than 25,000km² in the Namibian part of the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA) and a further 9,900km² across the border in Botswana.
This might spell disaster for the unique and sensitive ecosystem which is also home to the last big elephant population on our planet. Environmentalists as well as local communities are highly alarmed about the effects that large-scale oil drilling and fracking would have on the regions watercourses, wildlife and people.
As the MEFT expects bids for the 170 elephants by the end of January, opposition is mounting. Many organisations and experts worldwide are calling on the authorities in Namibia to cancel the intended sale. If you would like to take action please sign and share the following petitions:
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