Zim Needs To Sell Its Ivory  To Preserve Environment

Zimbabwe is sitting on a stockpile of ivory and rhino horns worth US$600 million which when sold, can generate the much needed foreign currency for the country.

However, an ivory and rhino horn trade ban, enforced by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has stifled this with activists calling for the easing of the ban albeit with proper guidelines that guard against poaching.

Lenin Chisaira, Founder and Director of Advocates4earth,  a local environment and wildlife lobby group that is set to embark on a 600km march to Hwange with the aim to raise awareness and funds to feed wildlife affected by drought, climate change and human encroachment said the danger of opening up the sale of ivory will then result in extensive poaching.

“We have a situation where, if we open up ivory trading, we might have more poachers coming in and that will be bad for wildlife,” he said.

Secretary for Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Mr Munesushe Munodawafa recently said the country has in excess of US$600 million both in rhino horn and ivory stockpiles.

“Zimbabwe is holding in its vaults elephant ivory which is worth US$300 million and another US$300 million worth of rhino horn, because of CITES regulations and decisions, Zimbabwe is not able to export that,” said Mr Munodawafa

“Because we have to store it in a particular way and under CITES surveillance, we need to spend so much even in the security just to protect that ivory and yet we can’t get any benefit from it.

“I can almost say that more than 95 percent of the ivory is from animals of species that die through natural attrition, every living thing, animal species included, die at some stage and we collect that ivory so the point we have been making is that these elephants are dead.”

However, the lack of transparency from the government has been making it difficult for the country to take the same direction in combating poaching as well as raising awareness on animal rights.

Chisaira said his organisation has faced hostility from state-owned institutions during its operations.

“We feel that ZimParks and State institutions should respect laws and listen to all voices when it comes to wildlife and the environment.

“After all, these are resources for all of us as well as for future generations as outlined in Section 73 of the constitution.

“We have faced challenges with lack of transparency and even backlash by various state institutions, especially those involved in environmental issues such as ZimParks and the Climate change management department,” Chisaira added.

This comes amid reports that more than 55 elephants have starved to death in the past two months in Zimbabwe’s biggest national park, Hwange National Park, as a serious drought forces animals to stray into nearby communities in search of food and water.

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