African elephants have come out on top after a decision was made at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which deemed it was no longer allowed to trade live wild elephants to “in situ” conservation in their natural habitats, which will end the trade in live wild elephants to captivity in zoos and entertainment venues.
These venues are finally deemed inappropriate and unacceptable, thanks to the forty-six countries that voted in favour of the decision.
Humane Society International (HSI) Africa, director and elephant biologist Audrey Delsink was present at the conference and reiterated that exporting live wild elephants, animals which already do not thrive in captivity, “serves no credible conservation purpose and is opposed by numerous elephant biologists”.
“The capture of baby elephants is horribly cruel and traumatic to both the mothers, their calves and their herds that are left behind. Calves suffer psychological and physical harm when taken from their mothers. Zoos and other captive facilities force these calves to live in an unnatural, unhealthy environment that does not meet their complex needs,” Delsink explained.
Elephants in Botswana and Zimbabwe, however, had an annotation that permitted the trade to “appropriate and acceptable destinations”, HSI explained.
In the past seven years alone, Zimbabwe has captured and exported over 100 elephant calves, many of which have subsequently died due to trauma and abuse.
HSI, along with the African Elephant Coalition, made up of 32 member countries that ensure the wellbeing of elephants and protection from ivory trade, welcomed the CITES decision.
The 18th CITES conference is taking place in Geneva, Switzerland from August 17 to 28.