Environment Department admits

Environment Department admits it can’t cope with elephant trade

Will the Department remove all welfare-based provisions for elephants? The Department of Environmental Affairs has been discussing amendments to the Elephant Norms and Standards last week

Environment Department admits

The Department of Environmental Affairs states that it has been experiencing difficulties enforcing and implementing its Elephant Norms and Standards. This issue has been highlighted by recent civil charges laid regarding the four elephant calves illegally removed from the wild at Sandhurst Safaris, and placed into captivity at Elephants of Eden and now at Knysna Elephant Park, an elephant-back safari operator.

The Department, under the leadership of Minister Edna Molewa is now proposing that instead of addressing its shortcomings in enforcement and implementation, it might simply remove the aspects of the law that are being broken.

The proposed alterations to the Norms and Standards could allow the removal of elephants from the wild for captivity, and allow elephants to be exported and imported out of and into our country, opening up an easy route to launder and trade with these animals. There is extensive cruelty involved with the training methods used to dominate and break elephants for elephant-back riding, which the Department admits cannot be allowed or supported.

These Norms and Standards were created in 2008 with the founding principles of preventing new elephants from undergoing the cruelty associated with the captive industry, and protection of biodiversity in wild areas where elephants are kept.

The NSPCA states that the proposed amendments would have far-reaching consequences for the future of South Africa’s Elephants and that the organisation believes that the principles stated in the the Norms and Standards need to be upheld. The animal welfare group adds that the public has a right to be fully informed about the ongoing discussions within the Department of Environmental Affairs, as the Department has not asked for public comment on the proposed alterations.

Since the announcement regarding the prospective changes, an alliance has been formed to fight further infringement of elephants and their well-being, consisting of various individuals or organisations. These include the NSPCA, Public Watch, Eden Forum for Wildlife Welfare Science and Ethics, Working Wild, Elephant Specialist Advisory Group, Lawrence Anthony Foundation, IFAW, Freeme Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre NPC Gauteng, FOUR PAWS Animal Welfare Foundation and the Conservation Action Trust.

— NSPCA.co.za