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Friday, February 18, 2022

Namibia Elephant exports !

Gold steadied on Feb 17 in international markets going near an eight-month high touched earlier this week, as the US dollar and Treasury yields dipped on less hawkish-than-feared Federal Reserve minutes, and as the Ukraine crisis boosted demand for the safe-haven metal.  At the Multi-Commodity Exchange (MCX), gold contracts were trading marginally lower by 0.05 percent at Rs 49,591 for 10 grams at 9.26am and silver shed 0.42 percent to trade at Rs 63,036 a kilogram.

No post on Gold and Silver but on Exports .. .. of a very precious one !!

In a  major trade deal implemented by the Shri Narendra  Modi Government, India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will officially sign a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) today. Negotiations on the deal have been completed in record time, having been officially launched in Sept 2021. Today our honble PM is hosting   a bilateral summit at which the trade agreement between the two countries will be signed by commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal and the UAE’s minister of economy Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri.  The UAE is India’s third trading partner globally, after the United States and China. Bilateral trade between India and the UAE was worth $43.3 billion as of 2020-21, and is spread across thousands of traded items. In 2019-20, the pre-pandemic year, trade between the two countries was estimated at $59 billion. The upcoming deal will be an ‘early harvest’ component of a far more comprehensive trade and economic partnership deal in the future.  

Elephants of Namibia .. – desert elephants, not a distinct species but  African bush elephants (Loxodonta africana) that have made their homes in the Namib and Sahara deserts in Africa.  Desert-dwelling elephants were once more widespread in Africa than they are now and are currently found only in Namibia and Mali. They tend to migrate from one waterhole to another following traditional routes which depend on the seasonal availability of food and water. They face pressure from poaching and from changes in land use by humans.  The Kunene Region in the northwest of Namibia is an area of mostly sandy desert, rocky mountains and stony plains which covers about 115,154 square kilometres (44,461 sq mi).  The desert elephants were absent from the southern Kunene Region during the war for independence. They moved north for safety, returning to the Ugab River in the mid 1990s by which time many indigenous people had moved into the area following Namibia's independence. Many of these new residents had no experience of living with wild elephants.

                     Namibia claims its elephant population has increased considerably over the last few decades – though many doubt this claim. There could be far fewer elephants than the 16,000 to 20,000 Namibia claims.   “Falsifying elephant populations statistics and exaggerating human-wildlife conflict can be used by governments to generate revenue from inflated hunting quotas, justify sales to zoos or hunting farms and initiate ivory-generating culls. Corruption is now as big a threat to elephants as poaching.”

Last year, Namibia  sold off 57 live elephants at an auction which it said was aimed at reducing populations in areas affected by drought and conflict with humans. The country raised $537,000 from the sale  - the  number represented just a third of the total of 170 elephants the African nation had hoped to sell, according to the environment ministry.   42 of those pachyderms will be exported to international destinations that the government did not disclose. The other 15 will remain in Namibia but under private ownership !

Namibia says the auction helped it strike a balance between the conservation of elephants and management of the risks they pose when they encroach onto land used by humans.  Now Namibia is in the process of capturing 57 wild elephants sold last year at auction, according to a statement today from the country’s Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism.  To the consternation of environmental groups and elephant advocates, Namibia had announced in December 2020 that it would auction off 170 of its elephants to reduce populations that were increasingly clashing with humans. It says it has an estimated 24,000 elephants.

Though they sold 57 elephants through a successful bidding, the pachyderms are yet to be rounded up from the wild.   Thirty-seven elephants have already been captured, today’s statement says, including 22 for export. It said nothing about where the elephants will go, other than that it won’t be China.  The Namibian Environment Ministry claimed that the clause in sale agreement prohibits providing destination details.  

Selling wild elephants into captivity has long been controversial, both because there’s debate about whether such highly mobile, intelligent animals can live fulfilling lives in captivity and because breaking up herds damages relationships among close-knit family members.  “Elephants have basic needs for stimulating ecological and social environments and for the freedom to exercise choice over their foraging options and companions. These needs cannot be met under captive conditions,” said an Elephant care group. 

A Namibian journalist John Grobler and a friend took this drone footage of the farm where 22 wild elephants are being kept awaiting export.   They stated that Calves are visible in drone footage of a farm where the 22 captured elephants slated for export are being held.   He says he worries that more of the elephants may be pregnant and that the stress of captivity may trigger premature births. 

The international wildlife treaty that regulates the export of wild African elephants, CITES, was amended in 2019 to bar elephants in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and South Africa from being exported to any country where the animals don’t or haven’t lived in the wild unless there’s a proven conservation benefit. That almost certainly rules out sales to zoos in, for example, China and the United States.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
18th Feb 2022. 

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