Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Southern African countries push for trade in ivory

Southern African countries push for trade in ivory

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Elephants splash at sunset in the waters of the Chobe River in Botswana’s Chobe National Park. AFP

Southern African countries push for trade in ivory

LEADERS from four southern African countries held talks in Botswana on Tuesday to better manage the world’s largest concentration of elephants, amid growing concerns over poaching, loss of habitat, and conflict with humans.

Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi, whose country has Africa’s largest elephant population, told his fellow leaders that it was time the region comes up with a common strategy to manage the huge mammals.

“We cannot continue to be spectators while others debate and take decisions about our elephants,” Masisi said in opening remarks in the northern town of Kasane.

The so-called elephant summit was attended by presidents from Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

At the end of the one-day meeting, the leaders resolved to “effectively lobby the international community” to relax the global ban on ivory trade to a strictly controlled form of trade.

In 1989 the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) banned international trade in ivory by listing all African elephant populations in its appendix 1.

Southern African countries have submitted proposals to CITES to have their elephant populations transferred from appendix 1 to appendix 2 which would allow them to trade in registered raw ivory to CITES-approved partners.

“We reflected on the status of the African elephants in the Kavango–Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, and noted that while overall numbers have declined, it is evident from available data that countries such as Botswana and Zimbabwe have large populations,” they said.

As the “numbers continue to grow, human-elephant conflict is escalating . . . due to competition for limited resources and the effects of climate change,” they said.

Landlocked Botswana has around 150,000 elephants roaming freely in its unfenced parks and wide open spaces, followed by Zimbabwe with some 100,000 according to a conference document.

The southern African region is also experiencing drought spells, which Masisi said were “placing even more pressure on our fragile ecosystems”.

Around two-thirds of the world’s elephant population is found on the continent.

Over the past decade, the number of elephants on the continent has fallen by around 111,000 to 415,000, largely due to poaching for ivory, according to figures from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Ivory from elephant tusks is illegally traded as part of a multi-billion dollar industry that extends from Africa to Asia and beyond.

The Botswana government is lobbying to end a strict ban on wildlife hunting which was imposed five years ago to protect wildlife in the country.

The controversial proposals, which must be debated by cabinet before becoming law, would overturn a hunting ban that was introduced by former president Ian Khama, who was an ardent conservationist.

MOST VIEWED

  • Breaking: US House passes 'Cambodia Democracy Act'

    The US House of Representatives in Washington, DC, on Monday, passed the “HR 526 Cambodia Democracy Act”, also known as the Cambodia Democracy Act of 2019. If signed off by the president, the bill will allow two major sets of action to be taken against high-ranking Cambodian

  • ‘Zero-dollar’ tours under fire

    Minister of Tourism Thong Khon has blamed “zero-dollar” tour operators for the decrease in foreign tourists to Angkor Archaeological Park in the first half of this year and has called for action against them. Angkor Archaeological Park received 1.24 million foreign visitors in the first half

  • Breaking: Rubbish found packed inside 83 containers at S'ville port

    Eighty-three containers packed with rubbish were broken open at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port by joint authorities on Tuesday. The origin of the containers has yet to be ascertained, Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said. Pheaktra, who is also the ministry’s secretary of state, said

  • Some jobs off limits to foreigners from August

    Beginning from the second week of August, foreigners will be banned from driving taxis and tuk-tuks, as well as being motorcycle delivery drivers, street food vendors, hairdressers and product distributors among other lower-income jobs. Some white-collar jobs such as the head of human resources will