President Mokgweetsi Masisi recently called on the international community to support the country’s quest to sell its current ivory stockpile.
Speaking in Stockholm, Sweden at the ‘Stockholm+50’ recently the President asked fellow United Nations (UN) member states to be considerate to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) member states Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana in seeking to sell their ivory
“As a country with the largest herd of African elephants, CITES is a major avenue for addressing conservation, community management and sustainability in wildlife issues in keeping with the Principles and Recommendations of the Declaration,” Botswana President said.
He said Botswana’s “huge” elephant population poses a human-animal conflict challenge for which the country needs help in addressing.
“It is, therefore, my sincere hope that you will be considerate to our cause in seeking to sell our ivory stockpiles.”
President Masisi’s speech came at the back of a just ended elephant conference in Zimbabwe where again the Convention turned down the request by the four countries to sell their ivory stockpile. Zimbabwe had already threatened to quit the Convention in the lead up to the summit citing external interference on its sovereignty.
Zimbabwe sought international support to be allowed to sell its stockpile of seized ivory, saying the $600 million it expects to earn from the sale is urgently needed for conservation purposes in relation to what they said was a rapidly growing elephant population that threatens to increase cases of human/wildlife conflict.
Prior to the summit officials from the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority showed ambassadors from European Union countries the stockpile of ivory tusks that they said have been seized from poachers, and that were collected from elephants died of natural causes.
Botswana also followed their neighbour in threatening to quit CITES following the summit. The Botswana government has however refused to share with this publication information on the size of its ivory stockpile.
Director of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) Botswana Dr. Kabelo Senyatso told the media recently that there was nothing stopping them from quitting.
He said the DWNP had been given a mandate by the government to withdraw from CITES if need be. The Director said they had since identified some other parties to the convention who are willing to leave CITES.
According to records, at continent level the population of elephants reduced from 508 325 (in 2006) to 415 428 (in 2015). The decline was attributed to a major decline in Eastern African elephant population which decreased by half over the same period. The comparatively small populations of West and Central Africa however observed growth over same period. Census results indicated that for Botswana, there was a significant increase in population over the same period. Elephant numbers are estimated through aerial surveys since 1980s.
Numbers have increased over the years with the expansion ranging from the north of the country (where they are mostly found) to the south of and to the west. There is also a significant transboundary movement between Botswana and neighboring states particularly Zimbabwe.