Elephant Deaths: CITES Permits Delay Testing

Dr Wave Kashweeka next to an elephant carcass PIC: THALEFANG CHARLES
Dr Wave Kashweeka next to an elephant carcass PIC: THALEFANG CHARLES

SERONGA: The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) permits have been blamed for the delay in sending elephant diagnostic samples to foreign laboratories.

The diagnosis of the cause of the unusual mass elephant deaths in the Eastern Okavango Panhandle is still unknown since the tragedy was discovered in April 2020.

The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism (MENT) has so far verified 275 elephants against the 356 carcasses reported by Elephants Without Borders (EWB).

According to a confidential report from the MENT to the Ministry of International Affairs and Cooperation (MIAC) seen by The Monitor, the delays in getting out the samples were due to CITES and coronavirus (COVID-19) travel restrictions.

“The movement of diagnostic samples from Botswana to foreign laboratory requires import veterinary and CITES sample permits from recipient countries. The arrangement has posed some challenges as the import permits take longer than expected,” said the report.

The ministry also cited COVID-19 as one of the challenges saying, “Shipment of samples by courier companies during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge as many have reduced their services to neighbouring countries.”

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