Zimbabwe will not burn its ivory stockpile, but instead will seek the removal of restrictions that affect the country’s trade in elephant’s tasks at the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) indaba in South Africa. The Conference of Parties to Cites meeting runs from September 24 to October 5 this year.
Environment, Water and Climate minister Oppah Muchinguri told delegates at a Cites breakfast meeting in Harare yesterday that the ban on ivory trade was depriving Zimbabwe of benefiting from its wildlife resource.
“Zimbabwe is sitting on more than 70 tonnes of ivory in its armoury. This has become so dangerous to protect given the determination of the illegal traders of ivory,” she said.
“To us, burning is not an option.”
Last month, Kenya burnt 105 tonnes of ivory worth $105 million, with President Uhuru Kenyatta saying the move was a signal that the country’s wildlife heritage could not be sold.
Kenyatta said Kenya would lobby other African countries to back its call for a global ban on ivory sales at the Cites meeting.
Muchinguri said there was no tangible evidence that the trade bans had ever saved species from extinction.
“The rhino species, which is now teetering on the brink of extinction, has been on Cites appendix I for the past 40 years. Zimbabwe will continue to lobby other member States to adopt and defend the principles of sustainable wildlife utilisation and socio-economic development,” she said.
According to Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority director-general, Edson Chidziya, Zimbabwe has put a proposal to Cites to remove the annotation on appendix II listing of populations of Zimbabwe to allow for trade without restrictions in the African elephant.
This is a counter proposal to the one by Kenya, Benin, Burkina Faso, Central Africa Republic, Liberia, Sri Lanka, Senegal, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda and Chad for the uplisting of elephant populations of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe to appendix I, which would limit the trade.
Appendix II includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilisation incompatible with their survival.
According to Cites, appendix I includes species threatened with extinction. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.
Chidziya said Zimbabwe was supporting Swaziland’s proposal to trade in rhino horn on the basis that it believes in sustainable utilisation of wildlife resources. The support comes amid a proposal to maintain the current rhino horn trade ban, which came into effect in 1976.
Zimbabwe will fend off a bid by Central and Eastern African countries to ban the commercial trade in lions, on the grounds that the country has an unsustainable population of the