Protect Elephants in Namibia

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Dear Honourable Ministers,

Re:         Rumble For Rights Project

Thank your valued time in considering this petition.

Voortrekker

The matter of “Voortrekker” the elephant drew worldwide attention to the issue of hunting of elephants in Namibia, which was unfortunately mostly negative publicity and criticism. Voortrekker was a true legend of the Ugab - a pioneer elephant for the desert-adapted elephant population in the Ugab and Huab rivers region in Namibia. A small group of these uniquely desert-adapted elephants took refuge during the war in the remote and desolate gorges of Kaokaland in the north of Namibia. On 25 June 2019 Voortrekker was killed by a trophy hunter after a permit was issued by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, allowing the hunt of Voortrekker for a fee of N$120,000 ( estimate of 7 673 Euro )  and citing Voortrekker as a “problem animal” as motivation for the approval of the permit. This magnificent animal was 50 years old when he was killed.

As you will no doubt be deeply aware, Namibia is known for its vast landscapes and panoramic nature scenes and attracts a global tourism community that contributes to the economy. Visitors from all over the world visit Namibia, Africa, to experience the fauna and flora and depart with a desire to one day visit the country again. The world-famous desert adapted elephants are cherished and admired by wildlife-lovers worldwide and are widely recognized as a major attraction for tourists to Namibia. Voortrekker has brought this issue to the fore.

What is the current legal status?

Animals are considered property in terms of Namibian law and do not have inherent rights.

Article 95 of the Constitution of Namibia provide that “…the State shall actively promote and maintain the welfare of the people by adopting, inter alia, policies aimed at the following:… (I) maintenance of ecosystems, essential ecological processes and biological diversity of Namibia and utilization of living natural resources on a sustainable basis for the benefit of all Namibians, both present and future; in particular, the Government shall provide measures against the dumping or recycling of foreign nuclear and toxic waste on Namibian territory…”

Amongst the objectives of the Namibian Government’s Vision 2030 is to ensure the development of Namibia’s “natural capital” and its sustainable utilisation for the benefit of the country’s social, economic and ecological wellbeing, and amongst its broad strategies is to maintain stable, productive and diverse ecosystems managed for long term sustainability.

The primary legislation is the Nature Conservation Ordinance 4 of 1975 of the Republic of Namibia. Hunting of elephants are permitted in Namibia, subject to approval of a hunting permit and any conditions attached to the permit. All hunting permits are issued by Namibia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism (“MET”).

Humans are not the only animals entitled to recognition and protection of their fundamental rights. Internationally there is a trend towards recognizing certain basic rights for animals. The Punjab and Haryana High Court (INDIA) declared in an exceptional judgement on 10 May 2019 that Animals have legal rights, just as humans do. The court said that the entire animal kingdom as legal entities have distinct persona with corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person.

Namibia has a unique opportunity to be a leader amongst African countries with regards to ethical wildlife management through development of its legislation and by recognizing certain fundamental animal rights – with a limited scope.

Balancing of rights and interests

We appreciate that the balancing of rights and interests in respect of this issue is a delicate matter. Especially we acknowledge the legitimate challenges of communities who deal with “problem animals” on a daily basis. By no means do we suggest that the interests of these groups must be disregarded or placed subordinate to the interests of other groups. Rather, what we are proposing is the recognition of elephants as a special category of animals in the Namibian context, deserved of additional protection in terms of the legislation.

Call on the Namibian Government
We request the Namibian Government to recognize that:
• Elephants have honour and dignity;
• Elephants have an inherent right to live and is required to be protected by law;
• The rights and privacy of elephants are to be respected and protected from unlawful attacks.

Signatories to petition

All of the signatories to this petition support this project (Rumble for Rights) and the cause that it represents.