Jumbo states push for sale of ivory stockpiles

27 May, 2022 - 00:05 0 Views
Jumbo states push for sale of ivory stockpiles First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa (3rd from left) and other delegates listen as a speaker addresses the African Elephant Conference in Hwange yesterday

The Chronicle

Leonard Ncube and Robin Muchetu in Hwange
THE African Elephant Conference ended in Hwange yesterday with range states reiterating calls to be allowed to sell ivory stockpiles so that they can fully benefit from their conservation efforts.

Topical at the four-day conference of range states, countries that are home to elephants, was involvement of communities in sustainable elephant conservation at the national, regional and international levels.

Ministers from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Namibia and Botswana made the Hwange Declaration at the close of a meeting of ministers yesterday which was also ratified by South Africa which also sent a delegation comprising experts to the four-day conference.

They resolved to affirm the objectives of the African Union to achieve greater unity and solidarity in Africa, promote and defend African common positions on issues of interest as enshrined in Article 3 of the Constitutive Act of the continental body.

The conference sought to come up with a united voice against the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) ban on trade in ivory by placing countries on Appendix 1.

The conference was in preparation for CITES COP19 to be held in Panama in November.

The range states reminded CITES that they have the sovereign right to manage their wildlife resources and the corresponding responsibility to sustainably use and conserve their resources.

They warned the international body not to interfere in domestic trade, the sovereignty of states and their rights to sustainable use of wildlife.

“We the ministers responsible for Environment, Wildlife and Tourism on key African elephant range states have gathered in Hwange Zimbabwe on 26 May 2022 together with the local and international organisations, major groups, communities and stakeholders at the Africa Elephant Conference to forge a new and better deal for the elephant conservation, tourism and rural communities in key African range states.

“Cognisant of the various international restrictions being imposed by international organisations and States on sustainable trade in wildlife and wildlife products, we resolve to develop functional community-based natural resource management policies and legislation that allow communities to receive benefits that outweigh the cost of management,” reads part of the Hwange Declaration whose contents were also included in the communique.

The member states agreed to protect the status of the African elephant and prevent illegal trade while noting that viability of wildlife resources in Africa requires collective and co-operative action by all key Africa range states.

They agreed to adopt sustainable elephant management strategies in reducing human-elephant conflicts and prepare accurate information to be delivered at CITES on cost of living with wildlife.

“We therefore reaffirm our commitment to the principle of sustainable use, generate revenue through the sale of wildlife products by developing a viable instrument which will enable our countries to sell ivory stockpiles to raise funds for conservation, leverage Tranfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA) strategies and approaches for coordinated transboundary management for conservation of contiguous elephant populations on the continent, develop innovative mechanisms for resourcing existing trust funds for promoting biodiversity and allocate resources for social ecological research in wildlife management, reduce illegal off-take and trade through enhanced enforcement,” read the Hwange Declaration document.

They emphasised the importance of Africa to speak with a unified voice internationally and called for establishment of a mechanism for lobbying on common issues.

They said while the global African elephant population are declining, the number of elephants in Southern Africa was increasing, demonstrating good conservation practices that ought to be recognised and provide lessons for other countries to emulate.

“Hence countries with high elephant populations must be heard and listened to, and must benefit from their efforts in conserving their elephants.

The Conference concurred that the voices of communities that co-exist with wildlife must be included in decision-making because they bear the brunt of living with wildlife,” read the communique from the ministers.


There is a need for long-term funding for wildlife conservation from a variety of sources including but not limited to wildlife trade.

“Animal welfare organisations should not only oppose conservation philosophies in key range states but also fund wildlife conservation.

Instead, the Conference agreed that elephant range states should not be penalised for their efforts to conserve the species but should rather be commended and supported by the international community for their good management practices,” they said.

The Conference agreed that current CITES decisions are no longer scientific but based on votes and emotions.

It was agreed that there is need to review the convention and ensure it serves its intended purpose.

“Decisions should be made based on elephant numbers in each country or region to curb the prevailing practice where decisions are influenced by non-affected nations.

We urge all African states to join and forge a new and better deal for elephant conservation, tourism, and rural communities in key African range states by endorsing and committing to this declaration,” they said.

– @ncubeleon, @NyembeziMu.

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