Legal Opinion on CITES Rules on Exports of Live African Elephants from Namibia

Mar 2, 2022 | Documents

CONVENTION ON INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN ENDANGERED SPECIES OF WILD FAUNA AND FLORA (CITES) Seventy-fourth meeting of the Standing Committee Lyon (France), 7 – 11 March 2022

This document has been submitted by Burkina Faso in relation to agenda item 50.

  1. According to SC74 Doc. 50 §9, at AC31, the Animals Committee agreed to refer the following concerns to the Standing Committee for its advice and recommendations, as appropriate: a) Namibia’s interpretation of its exports of live African elephants to non-range States outlined in paragraph 7 of document AC31 Doc. 18.1, Addendum 1; (…)
  2. In view of the Standing Committee’s discussions on this agenda item, we are submitting, in Annex 1, a legal opinion on CITES rules on exports of live African elephants from Namibia.
  3. The findings of the legal opinion provided in Annex 1 are as follows: Namibia’s elephant population is listed in CITES Appendix II, subject to annotation 2. The annotation clearly states that it allows trade in live elephants from Namibia exclusively for in situ conservation programmes, but by inference not to other locations or for any other purpose. Any previous or future export of live wild-caught elephants from Namibia to a destination outside the natural range of the species therefore does not comply with the provisions of CITES. The last paragraph of annotation 2 does not apply to live wild-caught specimens and any interpretation implying that live elephants may be exported from Namibia to ex situ locations is contrary to the Convention and the fundamental principles of interpretation of treaties. In conclusion, given that Namibia’s elephant population is listed in CITES Appendix II, which is subject to a legally binding restriction on live trade, in force since 2003, limiting such trade to in situ conservation programmes only, exports of live wild-caught elephants from Namibia should only be permissible to destinations within the natural range of the species.

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