KATIMA MULILO, 05 AUGUST 2013 - A herd of elephants spotted in the Bwabwata National Park. (photo by: Pearl Coetzee) NAMPA
Windhoek-Namibia will still be unable to sell its 62.9 metric tonnes of ivory worth about N$594 million although the moratorium on ivory sales that the country agreed to back in 2007 is coming to an end in November This is partly because Namibia has no decision-making mechanism (DMM) in place for this, a prerequisite for ivory trade.
The price of ivory in China, the world’s biggest market for elephant tusks, stands at about N$9,468 per kilogram, having fallen sharply from N$27,238 per kilogram.
In 2007, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Parties agreed to a once-off sale of ivory from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe to China and Japan, on condition that no country propose to sell ivory for a period of nine years, a moratorium which is ending in November.
Namibia’s elephant tusk stockpile, worth millions of dollars, currently stands at more than 62.9 metric tonnes. In an interview with New Era yesterday, Environment and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta said Namibia was not excited about the fact that the moratorium has ended.
This, he says, is because without the DMM for future ivory trade, Namibia will still be required to go back to the CITES Conference of the Parties with proposals to trade in ivory and those proposals will likely be rejected.
However, Shifeta said the end of the moratorium should not be interpreted to mean ivory will now be automatically sold. “The end of the moratorium in ivory trade does not signify the opening of ivory trade,” Shifeta reacted.
He noted amongst other conditions attached to the 2007 approved sale was the development of the DMM for future ivory trade that should not repeatedly have to be discussed by the Conference of the Parties in the manner that characterised such debates in the past.
He said Namibia was disappointed that the DMM has not been developed and that the due date has long passed. According to him, the failure to establish the DMM within the agreed process and timeframe significantly undermines the needs and interests of the affected range states and their conservation objectives and programmes, which rely on the creation of positive incentives for landholders, whether communal or private.
He also mentioned that Namibia’s conservation objective is setting land aside for elephants and to co-exist with them, instead of opting for forms of land-use that would displace elephants and cause the loss of their habitat.
Moreover, he said failure to establish the DMM undermined the generation of revenue from the sale of elephant products to finance elephant conservation programmes, including the management of protected areas and the combatting of illegal killing and trade.
Shifeta said the current situation negatively affects several African elephant range states in southern Africa, including Namibia. “It also runs counter to the letter and spirit of previous agreements of and decisions taken by the Conference of the Parties and infringes upon the legitimate rights of Parties enshrined in the text of the Convention,” he said.
Countries in southern Africa – notably Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe – have not only opposed ivory destruction as a conservation tool, but also they wish to do the opposite of burning ivory. They want to sell it.
Shifeta said the ban simply means that any country with the intention to sell ivory can go to the next CITES Conference of the Parties and request to sell it. Nevertheless, he said the requests to be approved would require two-thirds majority support of the CITES Parties, “meaning it can still be rejected.”