HARARE, Zimbabwe ( Associated Press) — Zimbabwe is seeking international support to allow it to sell its stockpile of confiscated ivory, saying it hopes to earn $600 million, to protect its rapidly growing elephant population. The urgent need is what he describes as “dangerous”. ,
Officials from the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority showed the ambassadors of EU countries a stockpile of ivory teeth that have been confiscated from poachers and collected from killed elephants.
Zimbabwean authorities appealed to the European Union and other countries to support the sale of ivory, which has been banned since 1989 by CITES, the international body monitoring endangered species.
Mangwanya said Zimbabwe has 163,000 tonnes of ivory and 67 tonnes of rhino horn.
In Harare, envoys from the Netherlands, Germany, France, Britain, Switzerland, Canada and the United States saw the ivory in heavily guarded safes.
Swiss Ambassador to Zimbabwe Nikulin Jaeger, speaking on behalf of the envoys, stressed the need to fight elephant poaching.
“Conservation and prevention of illegal wildlife trade is an international issue due to the involvement of criminal syndicates in illegal wildlife trade, therefore there is a need to strengthen international cooperation,” he said.
Later this month Zimbabwe will host what it calls an “elephant summit” in which representatives from 14 African countries as well as China and Japan will consider ways to manage the world’s largest land animal population.
“We need help. These elephants are multiplying at an alarming rate of 5% per year,” said Fulton Mangwanya, director general of the Parks and Wildlife Agency, during the visit.
Zimbabwe’s estimated 100,000 elephants are twice the capacity of its national parks. Park officials say overcrowded elephants are destroying trees and shrubs that are important to them and other wildlife.
Zimbabwe’s elephant population is growing so large that Mangwanya warned “it will be very difficult for us to do anything, but this is being opposed by everyone.”
Neighboring Botswana has the largest elephant population in the world with over 130,000. Zimbabwe and Botswana have about 50% of the world’s elephants. Both countries say they are struggling to cope with the rising numbers and are pressing for permission to sell their stockpile of teeth seized from poachers or extracted from dead elephants.
Other African countries, such as Kenya, insist that all ivory sales should be banned in order to discourage any international trade in ivory.
In addition to banning the sale of ivory, in 2019 CITES also banned the sale of wild elephants caught in Zimbabwe and Botswana, a move that has pleased some conservationists but struggles to manage their overloaded parks. The officers were disappointed.
There is a flourishing illegal trade in ivory in which international syndicates fund poachers to kill elephants and chop off their ivory. The ivory is then smuggled overseas, where there is a demand for ivory for jewelry and trinkets.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature said last year that poaching and habitat loss put Africa’s elephant populations at greater risk.
Zimbabwe and Botswana say they are ill-equipped to deal with poachers without money from the sale of ivory, especially as earnings from tourism have declined since 2020 due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions.
Mangwanya said Zimbabwe promised to use “all” proceeds from the sale of ivory to fund conservation in its wildlife parks and to support the communities living near the parks and to “bear the brunt” of conflicts with wildlife Is. Zimbabwe argues that funds benefiting people living near parks will prompt them to support the fight against poaching rather than relying on it for their livelihood.
Mangwanya said Zimbabwe has proposed a “one-off sale in this COVID-19 pandemic era”.
“There is a huge market for valuable ivory and we cannot trade to generate financial resources for the implementation of elephant management plans,” Mangwanya said. “It is worse now with COVID and with less business in tourism from where we get our revenue. Where do we get the money to look after the resources?”