20 Jan 2017 14:40pm
By Etuna Shikalepo
WINDHOEK, 20 JAN (NAMPA) Namibia has a stockpile of about 62,9 tonnes of legal and illegal ivory with a collective value of some N.dollars 341,2 million that could possibly be up for trade.
In an interview with Nampa on Tuesday, Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta said this includes 26,05 tonnes of legal ivory retrieved when animals died naturally, were put down for being problematic or in trophy hunting.
The remaining 36,85 tonnes of illegal ivory were confiscated in alleged unlicensed and illegal operations.
Shifeta said if Namibia decides to trade the much-wanted resource on the global market, approval from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) will be sought.
At a CITES convention in October 2016, Namibia and Zimbabwe each tabled a proposal to lift the ban, but a coalition of African states opposed and tabled a proposal to have ivory trade banned permanently.
Imposed since 1989, the ban is however enforced in a way that Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe can request for trade due to their large elephant populations that received less protection than those from other African countries.
The ban was in mid-2007 temporarily lifted for the four African States and 107 tonnes of ivory was auctioned under strict CITES supervision. The ban was also temporarily lifted in 1997.
Shifeta said since 2007, a lot of elephants have died and in 2017, Namibia may apply to have the ban lifted again and for an auction to be held, but only if the country has a buyer.
We do not have a problem with proposing to close the ivory market like China. However, it is not enough if you want to cartel the legal trade while the illegal trading might happen, Shifeta said when asked if Chinas proposal to ban the domestic ivory trade by the end of this year will have an impact on Namibia.
He said if Namibia decides to trade the ivory stockpile, the only international markets are in China, Japan and Vietnam.
Our law does not allow us to burn the natural resources (legal or illegal) but to make the request to have the product sold legally on the legal international market, Shifeta said.
Government can apply in the High Court to declare the products State property.
The CITES Convention where 171 member states meet is held every two years.