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Southern African bloc including Namibia want ban on ivory sale lifted

LONDON – The southern African country of Namibia has joined South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana in calling for the removal of a ban on ivory trade.  Botswana made the proclamation on Monday, according to a statement released by the country’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism.

Sources say the three countries account for 61 percent of the elephant population in Africa and considered ivory trade an economic matter.  All three countries prepared a joint petition to be presented at the forthcoming Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Sri Lanka in four months.

According to the petition signed by the environment ministers of the three countries, three countries argued that, “CITES has acted as an inhibitor and not an enabler of progress. The conference of the parties has repeatedly discounted the importance of the southern African elephant population and its conservation needs against other regions in Africa.”

Officials in the southern African region who spoke on condition of anonymity said that an end to the ban on ivory sale will give the three countries an opportunity to offload their ivory stockpiles that have been shelved for more than five years.

The southern African bloc also argue that they have laid strong modalities through establishment of conservancies that ensure that proceeds of sales from ivory benefit inhabitants in the conservancies financially and also through developmental projects.

“The proponents can no longer accept that their working conservation models are undermined” by an international organization “that ostensibly recognizes that people and states are and should be the best protectors of their wild life,” the petition said.

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Michael Harrington

Michael Harrington is a researcher and senior contributing reporter with Globe Afrique Media.

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