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Permits to Hunt Rare Desert Elephants Are Granted in Namibia


Desert elephants in Namibia. Image credit: Greg Willis via Wikimedia Commons.

As 30,000 to 38,000 African elephants are killed every year, illegal poaching has kept threatening the continuous survival of the animals. However, in a related move, Namibia, the Southwest African country has now given out nine permits to hunt desert elephants. According to the Conservation Action Trust, the remaining number of these elephants could be just 100. The permits are issued only for shooting adult males. It is estimated by the trust there are only 18 of these bulls alive now. Therefore, the move means that half of them would be killed.

Namibia’s environment and tourism ministry thinks it is not a big deal, because there are still 600 desert elephants remaining, and the desert population is no different from the country’s other groups of African elephants.

On the contrary, the conservationists and scientists do not agree to this explanation. In the article published in Scientific American, John Platt argued that desert elephants found only in Namibia and Mali, are not a separate species or subspecies, but they are specifically adapted to their arid environments. These elephants have a few morphological differences from savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana) remarkably in the way of the thinner body and wider feet. At the same time, they also own some unique behaviors distinguished from other African elephants, for example, they are intended to dig wells for purification of their drinking water. It is the pity that the first of these permits has been already carried out when hunters shot a “virile young male elephant” last month.

Source: Scientific American