Despite a petition of over 100,000 signatures condemning the sale, Namibia’s Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism (MEFT) plans to finalize a controversial auction of 170 of its wild elephants on Friday, January 29. The auction has been met with sharp criticism by conservationists who have questioned the population data and claims of human-elephant conflict that are being used to justify the sale. MEFT has argued that the auction is necessitated by a tripling in the country’s elephant population from about 7,500 in 1995 to about 24,000 individuals today, which the ministry asserts is damaging ecosystems, increasing the incidence of conflict between pachyderms and farmers, and heightening the risk of poaching. Elephant in Namibia. Photo credit: Rhett A. Butler Conservationists however dispute that data, arguing those estimates show that of the total population, between 17,265 and 20,000 of Namibia’s elephants are considered transboundary, meaning they engage in migration to and from Namibia, Angola, Botswana, and Zambia. If accurate, between 73 and 84 percent of the elephants are internationally migratory, leaving a resident Namibian population estimate of only around 5,688. Of that resident population, the 170 elephants set to be auctioned off constitute around three percent. Furthermore, opponents of the auction note that Namibia’s total elephant population is dwarfed by neighboring Botswana’s roughly 130,000. Namibia’s land area is 40% larger than Botswana, meaning its elephant density is at best about one-eighth that of its neighbor. Mark Hiley, operations director of National Park Rescue, a Zimbabwe-based conservation group, has been a vocal…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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