Mixed feelings about elephant sales

Staff Writer
While some community trusts are jubilant about the capital raised in the recent auctioning of 92 elephants, sombre mood prevails in other trusts which feel the auction did not go well for them.

The chairperson of Xhauxhwatubi Trust at Phuduhudu, Omphile Mash Libalamwe,  says she is unhappy that the auction failed to raise even a quarter of their targeted P1.8 million.

The trust, which is located some 100km from Maun, auctioned 22 elephants, and all of them were snapped up, but buyers were not willing to pay more than P5,000 for them. About 10 elephants were sold for P5,000 each, while two fetched P43,000 each. "This is bad, usually they fetch P75,000 each", said the chairperson, adding that some elephants have even fetched P16,000. "It was not a success, we lost a lot of money... it was really, really bad; we hope next year things will be better".

Libalamwe says the poor attendance by buyers might have something to do with the uninspiring sales. 
"If government had extended the hunting season to March next year, probably things would have been different. We tried to persuade them to extend the hunting season since we had lost four months of hunting while we were looking for companies to buy our hunting license; but government turned down our request saying that the animals will be breeding from November."

She expressed hope that the Wildlife Department would let them know as early as September whether they will have some game to auction next year.

Libalamwe says early notification from the Wildlife Department would enable them to go out and look for joint venture partners or start marketing their game for auction, at least six months in advance.

At the Kasane and Pandamatenga area(KALEPA Trust),  where the local committee known as TAC auctioned 22 elephants, slightly over P1 million was raised, with each elephant going for $6,500(P45,000), although the chairperson of the TAC there Gofaone Mosiakgabo says they had hoped each elephant would go for $11,500 or P80,500. However Mosiakgabo says buyers were reluctant to meet the reserve price mainly due to the

fact that there is not much time left before the hunting season ends.

KALEPA Trust was targeting P3.5 million from the sales which they usually raise when they open tenders for trophy hunting through safari companies.

However Mosiakgabo  described the sale as a success saying the trust ran the risk of going for the whole year without funds. "At least they have something to run their affairs with; but we cannot run away from the fact they usually make a lot more (through hunting safaris).

Mmadinare Trust, which last Friday auctioned 30 elephants are happy that they raised more than P400,000, with an average price of P19 000 for each elephant. Some were sold for P16,000, while10 went for P10,000 each.

The vice chairman for the Trust, Eric Masalila has described the auction as their best ever, adding that previous auctions in the past two years have been poor. "In fact the director of Wild Life has commended us for being the best performer in all the auctions', said an overjoyed Masalila.

Auctioneers Botswana, responsible for the sale of the elephants, described the auctions as successful as all the stock was sold. The community trusts represented are Ngami, Kasane, Diphuduhudu and Mmadinare.

Meanwhile recently the Department of Wildife in Gaborone auctioned 18 elephants for P1.1 million, with some elephants fetching P95,000 per head.

Graham Philips of auctioneers Botswana, said the top price for the elephants was P95,000, while the bottom price was P19,000.

He said buyers came from as far away as South Africa, Zimbabwe, USA, Europe, while some buyers were local companies.

"Considering the time constraints the prices were excellent; normal hunting season runs from April-September, therefore we were very, very satisfied with the prices achieved", the auctioneer told Mmegi on Friday.

However Philips also believes more could be achieved if they are given ample time to market the elephants in Texas or Las Vegas in the USA.




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