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Global Wildlife Group Approves Ban on Capture and Transfer of Wild African Elephants to Zoos

The group that regulates the global trade of wildlife has approved a nearly complete ban on the capture and transfer of wild African elephants

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Global, Wildlife, Elephants
FILE - A herd of elephants walk past a watering hole in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, Oct. 14, 2014. VOA

The group that regulates the global trade of wildlife has approved a nearly complete ban on the capture and transfer of wild African elephants to zoos, despite strong opposition from the United States and some African countries.

Member nations of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Geneva approved the near total ban Tuesday after heated debate.

A version of the ban that was slightly weakened by the European Union was approved after it was cleared by a required two-thirds majority vote.

The ban prohibits the transfer of all captured wild African elephants to so-called captive facilities, such zoos, circuses and other entertainment venues. The ban restricts the trade of elephants caught in the wild from Zimbabwe and Botswana to off-site conservation locations or secure areas in their natural habitats.

Global, Wildlife, Elephants
FILE – Visitors watch an elephant at the Milwaukee County Zoo in Wisconsin, July 3, 2019. VOA

The EU amendments included a loophole that allows the transfer of the elephants in “exceptional circumstances” and “in emergency situations” that require consultation with the CITES Animals Committee and the elephant specialist group the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The amendment also states that wild caught elephants already in zoos could be transferred to other facilities outside of Africa.

The U.S. opposed the original and the revised proposals.

Zimbabwe, which has captured and exported more than 100 baby elephants to Chinese zoos in the last seven years according to the Humane Society International, also opposed the decision.

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Humane Society International/Africa director Audrey Delsink praised the vote as “momentous” despite the EU’s “compromised language.”

“Public sentiment is shifting, and people are increasingly outraged at the senseless and cruel practice of snatching baby elephants from the wild to live a life as a zoo exhibit,” Delsink added.

CITES previously banned the trade of elephants in western, central and eastern Africa, citing the need for protection. Some trade, however, has been allowed in southern Africa, where elephant populations are healthier. (VOA)

Next Story

Know About the Impact of Bushfires in Australia on Wildlife

Wildlife Catastrophe Caused by Australian Bushfires

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kangaroo Australia
An injured kangaroo with a joey in its pouch, limps through burnt bushland in Cobargo, Australia. VOA

By Phil Mercer

More than 1 billion animals have been killed in bushfires in the Australian state of New South Wales, according to leading wildlife experts.

Bushfires have had a terrible impact on Australia. Lives have been lost, thousands of homes destroyed and vast areas of land incinerated. The disaster has also had catastrophic consequences for animals. Images of badly burned koalas, Australia’s famous furry marsupials, have come to define the severity of the fire emergency.

The University of Sydney has estimated that more than 1 billion mammals, birds and reptiles, as well as “hundreds of billions” of insects have died in the fires. Experts have warned that “for some species we are looking at imminent extinction.”

Vets and volunteers Australia
Vets and volunteers treat koalas at Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park on Kangaroo Island, southwest of Adelaide, Australia. VOA

They also fear that animals that have survived the fires by fleeing or seeking safety underground will return to areas that will not have the food, water or shelter to support them.

Saving the zoo animals

At zoos and wildlife reserves, staff risked their lives protecting the animals in their care.

As fires tore through the town of Mogo on the New South Wales south coast on New Year’s Eve, there were grave fears for the animals at the local zoo. Remarkably, they all survived, but the property is badly damaged.

Chad Staples, the head keeper, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation about his decision to stay to fight the flames.

“We have a lot of damaged fences,” he said. “The good thing is that we saved every single animal, there is no injuries, there’s no sickness. We had to stay here and protect them. We knew that this was the best place that we, if we worked hard, could make this a safe place. But, yeah, of course, I think everyone, at [a] different point, was scared out of their wits.”

Farm animals perish

Tens of thousands of farm animals also have likely died in the bushfire disaster.

Farmers have been forced to euthanize injured stock. The losses could run into the millions of dollars.

Only when the fires clear will Australia be able to more accurately assess the full extent of the damage on livestock and wildlife.

Dozens of fires continue to burn across several Australian states.

Australia Wildfires
A koala drinks water from a bottle given by a firefighter in Cudlee Creek, South Australia. VOA

Saving the zoo animals

At zoos and wildlife reserves, staff risked their lives protecting the animals in their care.

As fires tore through the town of Mogo on the New South Wales south coast on New Year’s Eve, there were grave fears for the animals at the local zoo. Remarkably, they all survived, but the property is badly damaged.

Chad Staples, the head keeper, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation about his decision to stay to fight the flames.

“We have a lot of damaged fences,” he said. “The good thing is that we saved every single animal, there is no injuries, there’s no sickness. We had to stay here and protect them. We knew that this was the best place that we, if we worked hard, could make this a safe place. But, yeah, of course, I think everyone, at [a] different point, was scared out of their wits.”

Farm animals perish

Tens of thousands of farm animals also have likely died in the bushfire disaster.

Farmers have been forced to euthanize injured stock. The losses could run into the millions of dollars.

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Only when the fires clear will Australia be able to more accurately assess the full extent of the damage on livestock and wildlife.

Dozens of fires continue to burn across several Australian states. (VOA)