Animal Defenders International

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Animal Defenders International

Elephant Dealer Guilty

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In April, the Tuli Elephants court case ended with animal dealer Riccardo Ghiazza and his company, African Game Services (AGS), convicted under the Animals Protection Act (APA). Wayne Stockigt, a former Ghiazza / AGS employee, was found guilty of cruelly beating the elephants on two occasions.

In 1998, 30 wild infant elephants were captured in the Tuli area of Botswana. The elephants were moved to AGS premises in South Africa, for mahout-style training ready for sale to zoos and circuses. South Africa’s National Council for Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) obtained a search warrant, gained video evidence of abuse, and began legal proceedings. ADI provided massive financial support for the case and was part of a campaign to save the elephants - our video of the abuse of captive elephants was shown on TV in South Africa. Seven unlucky elephants went to zoos in Switzerland and Germany. Nine others went to a private reserve in South Africa and the remaining 14 released in the Marakele National Park, South Africa. The trial began in February 2002. Ghiazza and AGS were found guilty in relation to chaining the elephants and the use of equipment or instruments on them. The Magistrate said, the chaining of the elephants was “unlawful under the circumstances” adding that undisputed evidence showed that uncovered chains had cut into the flesh. Elephants are chained like this in circuses worldwide, and it is legal in the UK.

Relating to the use of equipment on the elephants, the Magistrate said that the test was “reasonable” use: - “there were certain incidents where the mahouts acted unlawfully". Referring to the use of the hooked ear-loops on the elephants, Magistrate Bekker stated: - “Their [the mahouts] actions must be regarded as unreasonable and unlawful". Referring to the use of broomsticks and kicking of elephants’ genitals: - “All these incidents were unlawful and unreasonable.” The mahouts were charged, but disappeared. The Indonesian mahouts had handled and trained the elephants but Ghiazza / AGS contravened the APA because they took no steps to stop the ill-treatment. The Magistrate stated that they had not only foreseen but had reconciled themselves with the possibility that unnecessary pain and suffering would be inflicted on the elephants.

Our congratulations to the NSPCA for their work bringing this case.

© Animal Defenders International 2014