Namibia and neighbours' proposed ivory trade rejected

29 Sep 2016 15:50pm
WINDHOEK, 29 SEP (NAMPA) – Namibia will continue advocating for the legalising of ivory trade, the Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta has said.
Speaking told Nampa from Johannesburg, South Africa on Wednesday he said Namibia, South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe made three proposals which were rejected during the Conference of the Parties (CoP17) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) underway in South Africa.
“We will find ways to compromise; voting will not be too good,” he said.
The meeting in Johannesburg thus far voted on three proposals regarding the Decision-Making Mechanism (DMM) for a process in ivory trade. One was a proposal from Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe to adopt, without further discussion, a mechanism to permit commercial exports of ivory, but which was rejected by the required two-thirds majority.
All populations of African elephants were listed on CITES Appendix I in 1989, effectively banning international ivory trade but that protection was relaxed in 1997 and 2000 when populations in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe were down-listed to Appendix II - a less endangered status - to allow two sales of ivory stockpiles to Japan and China in 1999 and 2008.
Shifeta noted that Namibia and Zimbabwe have by far the largest number of elephants, with devastating consequences due to its carrying capacity.
He made specific reference to Namibia, where in 1996, legislation was passed to empower local communities to actively manage and benefit from both the consumptive and non-consumptive sustainable utilisation of wildlife through the formation of community conservancies. This was done with the aim to encourage wildlife recoveries and environmental restoration in communal areas.
Among other initiatives, this programme has contributed to the growth of the national elephant population from 7 500 in 1995 to around 23 000 in 2016; a large percentage of which live outside formally protected areas. This means local communities suffer heavy losses from living with wildlife, including the loss of human lives.
“As a result, tangible incentives from wildlife are therefore a must for our local people to tolerate living with wildlife,” he noted.
Sixty-two proposals made by 64 countries will be debated over the two-week conference in a global effort to enhance conservation and regulate the trade in wild animals and plants.
Governments will until 05 October 2016 consider these proposals for amending the CITES appendices.