By Elfas Torerai
The DA in the province has called for an independent investigation into what the party believes was the illegal killing of elephants at Sandhurst Safaris in Bray, outside Vryburg.
This comes after the provincial economic development and environment department issued five hunting permits for adult elephants at the farm and approved the transfer of four calves to Elephants of Eden resort in the Eastern Cape. The DA said the killing of the jumbos and the transportation of the orphaned calves was done in contravention of environmental regulations.
Chris Hattingh said: “The DA wants an enquiry by Parliament’s environment committee about the provincial government’s role in allowing permits for the killing of the adults and transport of the calves. The events surrounding these killings appear to be in contravention of environmental regulations.” Hattingh said the development brought more questions after it came on the back of the department having been under a cloud following complaints over hunting permit issues.
However department spokesperson Dumisa Seshabela said the department acted in the best interest of the animals and the community at large. “We were running the risk of the elephants further destroying property and even human life because the safari owner had indicated that she no longer wanted them and had already cut down the space where they could forage.
“The farmer also showed the department an import permit for the calves after she had entered into an agreement with Elephants of Eden and the department approved the transportation of the calves,” she said. At first, three adult elephants were successfully hunted and the two that remained were said to have become more dangerous to the community. “The remaining two were finally put down on Wednesday last week because they had wandered as far as Botswana.
“Their management was becoming increasingly difficult hence the decision to hunt them,” she said. The department’s involvement with the welfare of the jumbos was said to be limited because they were kept on a private property. Seshabela said the safari owner had won a court ruling against the department.