Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Botswana’s bid to sell ivory motivated by corruption – Khama  

Former President Ian Khama says Botswana’s attempt to sell ivory stockpiles is motivated by “greed and corruption.”

He made this retort speaking to a tabloid newspaper in the United Kingdom (UK) but did not provide any evidence to substantiate his claim.

Khama’s snide remark comes as Botswana and four other southern African countries being Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania endorsed and committed to the elephant declaration which, among other things, calls for non-interference from Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) on domestic trade, sovereignty of states and the right to monetise local wildlife.

At a media briefing last month, the Director of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) Dr. Kabelo Senyatso said Botswana was considering exiting CITES if they are disallowed to sell its ivory stockpile. “There is nothing stopping us from quitting. The mandate that has been given to us (given mandate to quit by government) is to withdraw from that, if needs be,” he said.

President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi has repeatedly voiced concern over Botswana’s increasing elephant population estimated at 130 000. Since taking over the reins of power, he has expressed worry over human–wildlife conflicts and has fought hard to address this issue. This was somewhat of a change in policy from his predecessor Khama who broke ranks with southern African countries when he announced that Botswana would not support bids to allow sales of ivory at the CITES meeting which was held in Johannesburg.

“We need to keep elephants on Appendix I so that there’s no trade in ivory,” he said in an interview. Animals listed on CITES’ Appendix I are afforded the highest level of protection and global trade in products derived from them is prohibited,” he said at the time.

CITES is an international agreement between governments whose aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species. At the upcoming CITES 19th Conference of Parties (CoP 19) scheduled for November, 2022, Botswana will push for a one-off ivory sale although this is likely to be vetoed by majority of the 183 signatory countries to CITES.

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