The Republic of Tanzania and Zambia have submitted a controversial proposal to CITES, the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species, for a one time sell-off of over 80 tons of ivory. The 15th CITES conference will convene from March 13-25th in Doha, Qatar and these two countries will need 66% of the 175 country votes in order to proceed. Some other African countries support lifting the ban on sales, notably South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.
The proposal by Tanzania and Zambia includes a de-listing of the African elephant from Appendix I to Appendix II (little to no trade control). This perhaps is the most threatening and alarming part of the proposal, and if approved could have wide-spread and devastating impacts for elephant herds across Africa.
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Hmmm. Of course I am against de-listing the elephant from Appendix I – I've seen too much devastation in terms of poaching to think anything otherwise…
BUT the elephant remains pretty controversial in my home country of South Africa. Parks are over-flowing and under-budgeted, and the only answer to over-population is culling. I've also seen too much devastation caused by over-large elephant herds not to agree with that.
It's this trade matter that is most difficult to think through. When on a course in Tanzania we had a very lively debate about controlled trade that had to be abandoned – too many strong feelings! I can totally see the sense in a one-time sell -ff. These countries need revenue, and what's the sense of this white gold sitting there earning nothing? As always, it's a matter of control, and how to go about it.I hope a satisfactory outcome prevails…