INTRODUCTION: At a recent stakeholder meeting called by the Department of Environmental Affairs to discuss proposed amendments to the Elephant Norms and Standards, it became apparent that the Department appears to be intending on removing all welfare based provisions relating to elephants.
The Department states that they are experiencing difficulties enforcing and implementing the Elephant Norms and Standards. This has been highlighted by the 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 Knysna Elephant Park, an elephant back safari operator.
The department are essentially proposing that instead of addressing their shortcomings in enforcement and implementation, they simply remove the pieces of the law that are being broken. No other concrete motivations have been provided.
Conservation groups are up in arms over reports that elephants could be imported and exported from the country, wild elephants legally captured for commercial use and all welfare protection for the animals removed.
Changes to the 2008 ENS were discussed at a recent (DEA) “stakeholder meeting”, which included SANParks, NSPCA, professional hunters, elephant working groups and elephant businesses. The capture of elephants from the wild for commercial facilities such as elephant back safaris or circuses is currently prohibited. However it appears that this protection may be removed as a result.