South Africa’s elephant Norms and Standards to be amended

On Wednesday, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) announced it would be amending norms and standards regarding elephant management in the country. The provisions are regularly reviewed and where necessary, updated or amended every four years.

Since the implementation of the latest Elephant Norms and Standards, there have been challenges facing elephant owners and managers, and conservation authorities. According to the DEA, these include:

  • Requirements relating to an elephant management plan;
  • Complexities relating to the information to be included in the management plan;
  • Lack of clarity regarding who is responsible for developing a management plan for a roaming (wild) elephant in instances where its origin cannot readily be determined;
  • No provision for methods of euthanasia;
  • That management decisions involving roaming elephants of unknown origin in the Transfrontier area of Limpopo should be in favour of research on the movement of those elephants, rather than to allow the hunting thereof; and

The DEA must ensure that provisions of the Elephant Norms and Standards are aligned with provisions of the Threatened or Protected Species (TOPS) Regulations involving elephants.

Some of the provisions in the norms and standards also do not specify whether they apply to wild or captive elephants. This includes restrictive provisions relating to “the import or export of live elephants, as no provision has been made for the export of captive elephants to captive facilities (e.g. such as exchanges between zoos)’.

The draft revised Norms and Standards will be gazetted in 2015 for interested and affected parties to comment on.