Southern African countries to appeal to watchdog for permission to sell stockpiled ivory worth more than £230m
Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia are making a fresh appeal for a global watchdog to lift restrictive measures on the trade in raw ivory.
The watchdog, Cites, prohibits unregulated commercial trade in endangered species around the world.
The three southern African countries, home to 61% of the continent’s elephants, will make their application for the change at the Cites conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka, which opens on Thursday. Their last appeal for a lifting of the measures, at the 2016 Cites conference in South Africa, was rejected.
According to Zimbabwe’s ministry of information, it is almost 13 years since the country’s last commercial sale of ivory. “Our ivory stockpile is worth over $300m [£235m], which we can’t sell because countries without elephants are telling those with them what to do with their animals,” Nick Mangwana, the ministry’s permanent secretary, said.
There is a growing outcry over the ban, and moves to lift it could earn Zimbabwe much-needed funds for conservation.
Zimbabwe will also make a separate appeal at the conference for permission to sell some of its elephants, as conflict between people and wildlife escalates.
The country has a booming elephant population, which is increasingly coming into contact with people. About 200 people have died from elephant attacks in the past five years.
An estimated 40% of the cases involved elephants encroaching on human habitats in search of water. This year alone four people were trampled, according to the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority(Zimparks).
Zimbabwe has 85,000 elephants but the country’s national parks and conservation areas can only cope with 55,000.\
Villages in low-lying areas near major game parks such as Hwange and Gonarezhou have complained of incursions by straying wildlife.