Namibia said Wednesday it had sold just a third of the 170 live elephants it put up for auction in a bid to reduce tusker populations under pressure from drought and territorial conflict with humans.

In a statement, the environment ministry said it has “successfully sold 57 of the 170 elephants which were put on tender in December 2020”.

It raised 5.9 million Namibian dollars ($400,000) from the sale.

Forty-two of those pachyderms will be exported to destinations that government did not disclose.

The other 15 will remain in Namibia but under private ownership.

The sparsely-populated semi-arid southern African country is home to some 28,000 elephants, according to official estimates.

Government resorted to selling live animals after being criticised for shooting elephants to control overpopulation.

The ministry spokesman Romeo Muyunda attributed the slow sale to a paucity of buyers and the failure of some bidders to meet the sale conditions.

“It’s an auction, so buying and selling is by chance, there are no guarantees for both the seller and potential buyers,” he told AFP.

Some potential buyers may have stayed away because “there was a lot of negative publicity which surrounded the auction,” he added.

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