Namibia to sell 170 live elephants instead of shooting them
The elephants are to be sold rather than killed -- a policy change forced by a global outcry. (AFP)
WINDHOEK, NAMIBIA -- Namibia is putting 170 live elephants up for sale to curb rising tusker populations under pressure from drought and territorial conflict with humans.
An advertisement for the sale of 170 "high value" elephants was carried Wednesday by a state-owned daily newspaper, New Era.
The ministry says the elephants are being sold "due to drought and increase in elephant numbers coupled with human-elephant conflict incidences."
The sparsely-populated semi-arid southern African country is home to some 28,000 elephants, according to official estimates.
Environment Minister Pohamba Shifeta told AFP that the government backed the policy of selling live animals after being criticized for shooting elephants to control overpopulation.
"We decided -– after research -– to sell them instead," he said.
The elephant population had dwindled to about 5,000 animals at independence in 1990, but increased phenomenally thanks to a globally-lauded conservation programme.
The advertisement said pachyderms on sale would comprise entire herds in order to preserve the important social structure in elephant communities -- infants or juveniles will not be left behind.
Shifeta warned that Namibia would not recklessly sell the elephants to buyers, saying "we have to make sure that the country is conducive."
For export purposes, the buyers must ensure that CITES requirements are met by both exporting and importing states for the trade to be authorized, according to the notice.
In October, 100 wild buffalo went up for sale in Namibia.
Last year the government offered for sale around 1,000 animals including 600 buffalo, 150 springboks, 60 giraffes and 28 elephants.