Are elephants an ‘African natural resource’ or of deeper value?
Following the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species on Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) held in Qatar, Botswana has threatened to pull out of the convention, and remove elephants from the list of species under protection. As expected, the elephants issue dominated this year’s CITES debate and further divided African countries. It has also emerged that Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries are unhappy with CITES. The convention banned the ivory trade. Pulling out, which is defined as reservation by species, has been mooted as a possibility, which will allow the countries to sell their ivory stockpiles.
SADC states, including Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, will meet throughout April, in Malawi to work out a strategy. The possibility to go into reservation follows on the proposal backed by 23 other elephant range nations that would have extended the trade moratorium on ivory trade to 20 years, from the current nine years.
Botswana has about 18 tonnes of legal ivory in its stocks and spends over P700 000 annually to secure the stock. At the last sale the country earned over US$7 million. The decision by CITES to reject Zambia’s proposal has been described as “a ban on the use of African natural resources”. According to the IMWC World Conservation Trust, these decisions mean that “significant ivory stocks will now be left in storage instead of generating revenue for use in elephant conservation. Africans are effectively being barred from utilizing their own natural resources.”
As the war on poaching rages on and the subject of ivory remains highly controversial many questions are raised regarding the fate of elephants. Are they, as some say a natural resource…better yet a national resource or do elephants hold a higher, irreplaceable and invaluable spot in this world?
(Credit: Chas Rob)
(Credit: Miha Krofel)
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