SENIOR STAFF WRITER
THE government is sweating over the sale of a stockpile of ivory worth US$600 million as it is struggling to unite all African countries to approach the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) with one voice.
This comes as Zimbabwe is pushing CITES to allow countries to sell stockpiles of ivory.
Speaking in the National Assembly on Wednesday, Environment minister Mangaliso Ndhlovu said they are currently engaging other African countries.
“I must highlight as I conclude that we have begun a process which we want to lead as Zimbabwe. First, of consolidating the position from an African perspective as we build up to CITES in 2022. Our realisation is that Africa is divided in CITES and we want to make sure that a common position is established because after all, most of the big mammals are found in Africa,” Ndhlovu said.
He said Zimbabwe was facing problems in disposal of ivory.
“With regards to the disposal of our ivory, we are currently under the statutes of CITES, only allowed to sell for education purposes, not for commercial purposes. We did deposit what we call a reservation and that was our attempt to say with regards to our elephants, we will not be bound by the provisions of the CITES statutes. I want to also highlight that this was a position taken by all Sadc member states and all Sadc member states deposited their reservations.
“However, for us to be able to dispose, we would need the countries that are buying and there are only two that are certified by CITES and that is Japan and China, to have deposited the same reservations which, unfortunately they did not. So, we still have the same limitation that the countries that are certified to buy our ivory did not deposit reservations. That is the crisis we are facing,” Ndlovu said.
He also said the government was considering culling.
“As government, we have explored different strategies, including the establishment of the TFCAs (trans-frontiers conservation areas), which then allow the movement of wildlife across countries because we believe that as the Sadc region, we have a unique opportunity to conserve wildlife pretty much for the whole world to come and view.
“However, the reality is that perhaps we would have outdone ourselves and the population is no longer sustainable in some of these areas.
“There are a number of options that we are looking at for consideration by the government, one of them being culling. Once that is approved as a policy direction, we will be updating the House,” he added.