Namibia, Country Bans Media At Ivory Auction

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    Oct 1, 2007
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    Namibia, Country Bans Media At Ivory Auction

    Windhoek, Namibia raised eyebrows yesterday when it banned the media and observers from a once-off ivory auction held under the auspices of the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites).
    No explanation was given for the news blackout.

    Newspaper The Namibian said the environment ministry had kept the auction under wraps and quoted sources as saying Chinese and Japanese bidders had arrived in Windhoek on Sunday to view the ivory stocks.

    Yesterday, in the first of four sales, $1,1m was raised in the sale of 7,2 tons of ivory, the first lot of a total 106 tons on offer.

    At the 14th Cites conference held in the Netherlands last year, Namibia was permitted to sell nine tons of ivory, Botswana 44 tons, SA 51 tons and Zimbabwe four tons. Cites attached "strict conservation measures" to the concession.

    Namibia had its auction yesterday, Botswana will have its tomorrow and Zimbabwe and SA would have theirs on November 3 and 6 respectively. It is a once-off sale, with the next due in nine years.

    Between March and April, the Cites secretariat visited the four countries and verified that the declared ivory stocks had been properly registered and that they were of legal origin.

    The previous ivory auction held in Windhoek raised $5m.

    The Namibian said that an official told the International Association for Animal Welfare two weeks ago that the environment ministry would refuse it observer status.

    Wildlife trade watchdog Traffic said it had confidence in the auctions. "As far as we're concerned, it's a well-managed process," Traffic's national representative David Newton said.

    Despite concern about China's enforcement efforts, Newton said Beijing had made real efforts to comply with international rules on ivory trade.
    "They are taking this a lot more seriously," he said.

    "We're always urging caution, and the ivory trade needs to be very strictly managed. For the once-off trade, we're confident that the monitoring mechanisms are in place."

    Cites says it agreed to the sales only in African countries where elephant populations were judged to be healthy and growing. More than 312000 elephants are living in the four nations. Most of the tusks were taken from elephants that died from natural causes or culling.

    Profits from the sales had to go towards elephant conservation projects, or towards programmes aimed at developing communities who lived around elephant ranges, Cites said.

    Source: Business Day

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