Although Botswana is hoping that the CITES standing committee meeting to discuss ivory stock pile sales next week will approve the sale, government officials are unhappy that the country is getting a raw deal from the prospective buyer – Japan.
Botswana, Namibia and South Africa will next week stand shoulder to shoulder and push that sixty tonnes of their stockpiled ivory should be approved for auction at the meeting slated for Geneva.
Botswana officials have privately expressed their unhappiness that CITES provisions singling out Japan as the only approved buyer leaves them without barganing power.
Ministry of Wildlife officials say that they got a raw deal from the last sale because Japan, as the only approved buyer, determined the prices. Indications are that things may not change this time around.
The three Southern African countries also face strong opposition from International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), which opposes any decision to allow the “one-off” sale of stockpiled ivory from Botswana, South Africa and Namibia.
Botswana, Namibia and South Africa were granted permission by CITES in 2002 to sell 60 tonnes of ivory stockpiles, despite widespread opposition by many governments and NGOs.
The sale is dependent on certain conditions being met, such as effective monitoring of the illegal killing of elephants (MIKE), sufficient trade enforcement and the revenue being used for conservation and community development.
IFAW’s wildlife campaigner, Raul Matamoros, was recently quoted in the international media saying: “IFAW is opposed to the stockpile sales as we fear that any legalised sale will stimulate demand and increase the black-market trade.
We do not want history to repeat itself: the last experimental stockpile sale of ivory in 1999 resulted in a rise in poaching incidents and ivory seizures. If the international community is serious about saving elephants, then all ivory stockpiles should be destroyed, and the trade in ivory banned. Only once we remove the commercial value of ivory will the poachers’ bullets stop.”
Key issues to be discussed at the meeting include:
“Assessment of whether Japan, the prospective buying country, has met minimum requirements for importing ivory.” Whether the Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) data is sufficient to provide the base-line data CITES requires.