April 4 2010: Botswana will have to wait for another nine years before off- loading its stock of ivory. The last ivory sale was in 2008, after which the 14th CITES conference, held at The Hague, imposed a nine year moratorium on ivory sales.
Botswana had hoped that they would negotiate for a reduction of the ban at the recent CITES conference held in Doha, Qatar. But their negotiations were unsuccessful, as the conference decided to uphold the nine year ban imposed on Botswana and other Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries.
Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment Wildlife and Tourism, Edmond Moabi, said at a press briefing last week that two proposals were tabled at the conference. The first proposal was for the decrease of the 9 year moratorium, while the second one was for Tanzania to down list their elephants from appendix 1 to appendix 2 so that they can be able to sell some of them.
“It is unfortunate that all of these proposals were denied by the European countries. But we are hopeful that we will be able to sell our stock of ivory after nine years” said Moabi.
Botswana stockpiles its ivory every day, as some of the elephants die because of natural causes.
“There were two divisions at Doha, west and south. West African countries have fewer elephants, with an approximate population of 40-50,000, while South African countries have much more, about 400, 000. South African countries therefore want to sell their ivory stockpiles, while West African countries do not” said Moabi.
SADC tourism ministers will meet in April at Malawi, where they are expected to discuss strategies through which they can approach the issue.
At the same time countries are at liberty to pull out or be put in reservation by CITES.
A country that is on reservation is practically isolated from the international ivory trade as it has to identify its own markets for its ivory. It also stipulated that the country can only sell to countries that are also on reservation.
Moabi also said that Botswana is ready and willing to donate elephants to countries that can properly take care of them.
“We have donated elephants to Tunisia and Angola in the past. We also donated 500 elephants to Mozambique, but they have not been able to collect them because of cost inhibitions. It costs US$250,000 to transport one elephant” said Moabi.
Countries are also allowed to manufacture products using elephant parts. But there is a requirement that this should be done locally, which is not possible as there is no market for such products in Botswana.
“Members of CITES are not allowed to sell elephant products outside the country” said Moabi.