Kenya has vowed to fight “to the last man’ to block Tanzania from getting a CITES permit to dispose off its 89,848 kgs of elephant tusks stockpiled in godowns, Kenyan blogers have said, quoting a business newspaper in Nairobi.
The blogers, DirectWildlife, apparently associated with issues of protection of the environment, say a report in one of Kenya’s business newspapers have revealed a fallout between the two countries in the East African Community.
The fallout is in light of the two neighbouring states holding opposing views on ivory trade proposals sent to convention ahead of the 15th Conference of the CITES Parties (CoP15) to be held in Doha, Qatar in March.
While Kenya has submitted a proposal for a total ban on ivory trade, Tanzania is reportedly “pushing for a new trading window to allow it to sell its ivory stockpile to fund conservation measures,” said the Kenya’s Business Daily.
Kenyan wildlife officials see this as betrayal by their neighbours with whom they share ecosystems such as Amboseli (Kilimanjaro) and Maasai Mara (Serengeti). Further Kenya believes that Tanzania’s proposal to move their elephants from Appendix I to Appendix II in the CITES rankings, thus allowing it to carry out a one off trade stockpiled ivory, will most likely increase poaching in the named ecosystems.
Tanzania and Zambia are both pushing for an opportunity to sell 89,848 kgs and 21,692 kgs of stockpiled ivory respectively. Zambia also wants to sell raw hides.
This is confirmation that CITES ruling that allowed four southern Africa nations (Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa and Botswana) after the 14th CITES meeting in 2008 was bound to set a bad precedent.
Allowing Tanzania and Zambia to sell their ivory will signal other African states to ask CITES for permission to sell their legally held ivory stockpiles too, thus setting the pattern of bad decisions into a spiral, the paper said.
The result will no doubt be a rise in demand and consequently an upsurge in poaching - possibly to the 1970s and 1980s levels that saw the population of elephants in Kenya cut down from 168,000 in 1969 to just 16,000 in 1989, the paper said.
According to the paper, Kenyan officials have vowed to fight these proposals to the last man. Rallying behind Kenya in the fight to block the Tanzania/Zambia proposal are various African states including Congo, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Rwanda and Sierra Leone. It would be untold victory for elephants should the pro-trade proposals be voted out and a total ban in all ivory trade is imposed.
The paper further said “So to CITES - and to our Tanzanian neighbours - don’t condemn Africa’s elephants to extinction over a few million dollars worth of ivory”.
There are only two certified buyers. That is Japan and China. Japan designated as a trading partner at the 54th sitting committee meeting (Geneva, October 2006), and China designated as a trading partner at the 57th meeting (SC57, Geneva, July 2008).
Tourism and Natural Resources minister Shamsa Mwangunga was not easily available for comment yesterday as she was reportedly wrapped up in a meeting.