SADC countries to reconsider CITES position: Shifeta

28 Aug 2019 16:50pm
WINDHOEK, 28 AUG (NAMPA) – Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states will have to reconsider their position at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as their interests are not valued, Minister of Environment and Tourism (MET), Pohamba Shifeta has said.
Shifeta made these remarks on Tuesday during the 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention held in Geneva, Switzerland between 17 and 28 August.
Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe submitted a request to CITES to be allowed a one-time sale of government-owned ivory stockpiles and fund conservation activities, however, this proposal was squashed in a vote that saw 101 countries in favour, 23 against and 18 abstaining.
“As SADC we are going back to sit and reconsider our position in CITES. The organ is not helping us to conserve our wild animals, rather frustrates those doing well, so I think there is no need to stay in CITES,” stressed Shifeta.
He noted that many countries’ position on the matter is not based on science but rather on politics.
Shifeta further stressed that some countries do not even have certain species and yet, are voting to the lifting of the moratorium of once-off sales that will allow countries to clear their stockpiles.
Namibia currently holds ivory stockpiles worth N.dollars 125.4 million.
Based on the 2008 auction, the ministry holds legal ivory weighing 29 964 kilogrammes worth N.dollars 54 188 054 and illegal ivory (seized from poachers) of 39 427 kilogrammes worth N.dollars 71 299 913.
Echoing Shifeta’s sentiments at the same occasion, SADC Chairperson and President of Tanzania, John Magufuli said CITES discards proven, working conservation models in favour of ideological driven anti-use and anti-trade models.
He added that such models are dictated by largely non-state actors who have no experience with, responsibility for, or ownership over wildlife resources.
He noted that the populations of iconic African wildlife species in the region illustrate the effectiveness of the conservation models.
“As members of the global community, we fully appreciate the importance of multilateral negotiations in identifying and collectively working towards solutions, but we can no longer ignore these glaring shortcomings and threats to our national interests. Time has come to seriously reconsider whether there are any meaningful benefits from our membership to CITES,” said Magufuli.