Circus not allowed to export 'retired' elephants

2017-05-30 13:17
Elephants perform in the Brain Boswell Circus in 2008. (File, Netwerk24)

Elephants perform in the Brain Boswell Circus in 2008. (File, Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg - Activists have to shoulder the blame for the fact that the future of five "retired" elephants is uncertain now.

That’s what circus boss Brian Boswell said on Monday after the High Court in Pietermaritzburg agreed with Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal, the provincial Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs and the Department of Environmental Affairs that Boswell may not export his five African elephants to a zoo in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.  

Boswell applied for the export permits in 2014, Netwerk24 reported, but the government refused to issue them. He wanted to sell the elephant cows to the zoo for R3 million apiece.  

Boswell approached the High Court to force the government to issue the export permits and to have the norms and standards for the management and conservation of elephants declared null and void.

Judge Dhaya Pillay said in her ruling that the government is committed to the norms and standards of the management and conservation of South Africa’s elephants as promulgated in 2008.

In term of that, no South African elephants may be exported to a "controlled environment [such as a zoo]".

'Mere guidelines'

Boswell said he was of the opinion that the norms and standards were merely "guidelines" and could not be legally enforced. He also argued in court documents that the norms and standards were “irrational and unreasonable” and for that reason had to be declared null and void.

The government, in turn, pointed out that it was a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora  (CITES) and may for that reason not agree to permits being issued for the export of African elephants to a zoo.

Pillay pointed out that elephants being confined is a problem for the government and the norms and standards were introduced to regulate the industry. 

"In terms of the norms and standard the African elephant is considered an indigenous, endangered species and for that reason it deserves national conservation status," Pillay said.

Boswell’s application was rejected with costs.

Boswell said he didn’t know what to do with the elephants now and claimed it cost him a substantial amount to maintain them. "I will, however, not be able to have them put down," he said.

He said they had been with him for 35 years and activists should shoulder the blame that they can no longer be used in his circus. "I will have to find another way out [of the situation]."

He hasn’t decided yet if he should appeal against the ruling.



Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  animals

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