If there’s one word to summarise elephant auctions in Africa, it would be CONTROVERSY.
Regardless of whether the elephant auctions occur in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia or even Zimbabwe, it seems there are corners continually being cut when elephant auctions are concerned.
Elephant Auctions In Namibia
According to Namibia’s Ministry of Environment, Forestry & Tourism, Namibia has an estimated total of 24 000 elephants. Unfortunately, with the drought that Namibia has been experiencing as well as the increasing population of elephants, which has resulted in elephants clashing with humans, the Ministry of Environment, Forestry & Tourism saw it fit that the 170 elephants be auctioned off in December 2020. This auction was only made legal under the condition that the auctioned elephants would remain in Africa. Unfortunately, the latter was not the case as a number of the elephants that were sold in this auction were shipped to the UAE, this going against Cites ( Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) policy.
Elephant Auctions In Botswana
In Botswana, there is an estimated total of 130 000 elephants and just like in Namibia, this growing number of elephants has resulted in elephants clashing and in some cases killing humans. As a result, elephant auctions have been a better option to reduce the elephant population size rather than culling.
Auction It, Botswana facilitated an elephant hunting auction where bidders were allowed to bid on “hunting packages” that allowed the highest bidder to hunt 10 elephants for each hunting package sold on auction.
Where do the elephants go once they have been auctioned?
Once elephants have been auctioned, most of them are moved to private game reserves or they are exported to other countries (in Africa). However, in some illegal instances, once the elephants have been auctioned, due diligence is not done and the authorities who initiated the auction don’t ensure that the elephants are moved to locations within Africa and oftentimes, leaving the elephants susceptible to being traded for their tusks in illegal ivory trades.
How can elephant auction regulation be improved?
Despite China declaring elephant auctions as illegal, ivory is still being traded in the black market. Organisations that protect the rights of endangered species have come a long way in their efforts, however, more work still needs to be done.