20 Sep 2016 14:10pm
WINDHOEK, 20 SEP (NAMPA) Namibia does not expect discussions on the trading of ivory to be in its favour at the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) meeting starting in Johannesburg, South Africa next week.
The Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) takes place from 24 September to 05 October 2016, and will make decisions on what additional measures are needed to end illicit wildlife trafficking.
Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta at a media conference here on Monday raised concern that the discussions will follow a similar trend as those at the 2016 International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) world conservation congress that took place in Hawaii, United States of America earlier this month.
A motion was tabled to close domestic ivory markets during that event.
Shifeta said Namibia opposed the motion, amongst others, because it believes such markets can be regulated if there is sufficient political will and because it feels Namibia has the sovereign right to decide over the use of its own resources.
The country also has the interests of rural communities at heart with regards to community conservation programmes.
The original motion was however adopted.
Currently, Namibia does not participate in any domestic trade in ivory, although all the necessary regulations are in place for such trade.
The minister told Nampa at the media conference that the country's ivory stockpile is worth billions of Namibian dollars.
We as a nation have been very consistent over the years on CITES issues and we are led by our Constitution that requires us to use wildlife resources sustainably to the benefit of all our people. We have a good record of effectively implementing CITES and our wildlife populations are thriving.
We also have one of the best examples in the world of community-based conservation and there is even more wildlife on State land outside our protected areas as well as commercial farm land than in our parks. Very few countries can match us with these achievements. We therefore call on countries to support our proposals and not obstruct us, he noted.
Namibia has submitted a number of proposals for the upcoming event, including a proposal to remove the current annotation to the listing of the Namibian population of the African elephant in the appendices to CITES, as well as a proposal on a decision-making mechanism for future ivory trade, jointly submitted with South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Namibia is also co-sponsoring a Zimbabwean proposal on their elephant population and co-sponsoring proposals for CITES to recognise its impacts on livelihoods, and to establish a committee of rural people to help guide the conventions on the interest of rural communities. Both of these issues have largely been ignored in previous decision-making by CITES, Shifeta said.