ACADEMICIANS and wildlife conservation stakeholders have said that burning confiscated ivory stockpiles was not an option for the reason that the practice would not stop the illicit trade but rather implied defeat in the control of poaching.
Strong enforcement of wildlife protection laws in addition to global consensus on hefty penalties against unscrupulous traders who propel poaching among other counteractive measures are recommended to stop the killing of elephants and rhinos in Africa.
Dr Marcellina Chijoriga also the Dean, University of Dar es Salaam Business School said ivory was not like cocaine that poses health risks to human life, therefore it should be used wisely being another source of income in need of proper handling.
“Rejection of the requests by Zambia and Tanzania to hold one-off sales of their ivory stockpiles during a United Nations species trade meeting in Doha in March, last year was not the end of the bid. Authorities need to tighten law enforcement systems along with other corrective measures.
Burning of ivory stockpile is not an option,” Dr Chijoriga said. She underscored the need for the country’s negotiation team to present strong and convincing arguments to let member states of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) understand the country’s concern to support oneoff sales of the stockpile available.
“It is necessary to have empirical data on ivory collected from animals that died of natural causes and the contraband stockpiles. It is quite wrong to burn down the stockpiles believing that such efforts would stop poaching,” Chijoriga clarified She said it was not enough to complain that fellow East African member states did not support the country’s bid but rather enough preparation with evident talking points was essential.
For his part Dr John Baitani, Programme Officer Monitoring and Evaluation University of Dar es Salaam Business School challenged the international community to think of ways to punish buyers who fuel poaching. He said it was possible to institute effective management of national parks and game reserve areas, but there should also be a mechanism to hold responsible illegal traders currently offering USD 1,800 per kilogramme.
Two years before the Doha meeting, Tanzanian authorities appealed to the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the global agency that slammed the ban on trade in ivory and rhino horns, to temporarily lift the moratorium to enable it dispose 89.8 tons of ivory stockpile. Self-employed consultant Zablon Otieno called for a common voice by the international community to stop the illicit trade in ivory.
He recalled recent experience during his visit to Bujumbura in Burundi where sale of ivory is carried out openly because it is not prohibited. “Such loopholes propel poaching in national parks like Katavi. Cross border activities are not controlled and any ivory cache that found its way to Bujumbura would definitely reach ready markets in Asia.
Burundi without a single national park finds no reason to issue ban on ivory trade,” Otieno explained. Othman Mjema former professional hunter accused some of local park rangers of being part of the problem. These are not patriotic and some of them colluded with poachers to kill rhinos and elephants for illegal exports.
“With modern communication system like the Global Positioning System (GPS), one would not expect poachers to operate with impunity. When poachers are in operation on one side of the area, corrupt wardens pretend to be busy on surveillance on the wrong side of the area,” Mjema alleged. He asked the authorities to work out common strategies to dismantle the networks that now use high tech communication to run their business.
These days, buyers and sellers do not have to meet physically. Rather they ply the internet,” he said. The Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Ezekiel Maige has also agreed that incineration of ivory was not optional because the attempt would not guarantee control of poaching that required co-ordination of additional measures.
“Initiation of Tanzania Wildlife Service (TWS) will help address different challenges including acquisition of working tools like inspection helicopters, deployment of well-trained non-negotiable game wardens and others,” Maige said.
According to last year’s annual report by the world’s largest database on ivory seizures known as the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS), the illicit trade in ivory, increased in volume between 2004 and 2009. The watchdog organization maintained that the fear of putting ivory on the market would stimulate demand, not satisfy demand and that the situation in Africa would get even worse.
The UN body that oversees trade in threatened wildlife (CITES) last year rejected bids by Tanzania and Zambia to sell their stockpiles to Japan and China. The decision was reached during the 175-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) meeting in Doha, the Qatari capital.
Tanzania wanted to sell 89.8 tonnes of ivory, while Zambia had argued it needed to sell its 21 tonnes of the material, partly because it was too costly to maintain. The Cites secretariat had recommended the rejection of both countries’ proposals, citing a poor enforcement of poaching and illegal sales domestically.
Former Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr Ladislaus Komba said; “We are sitting on a treasure (ivory) that we are not allowed to use to help our population, to help the poor build schools and roads,” he said.A separate proposal to downgrade Tanzania’s elephants to a lower level of protection, which allows commerce if it is monitored and deemed sustainable was also rejected.
In parts of the Far East countries, the high price of raw ivory is fetching as much as USD 1,800 a kilo. The ivory trade was banned in 1989, but two oneoff sales were allowed in 1999 and 2008. The last permitted sale of ivory in 2008 saw Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe releasing stocks.
Original Post: http://allafrica.com/c/-4Gc4l
By: Bilham Kimati, 15 October 2011