International ivory trade: Zimbabwe seeks allies

Zimbabwe has invited representatives from fifteen countries to a conference on the subject at the Hwange Game Reserve this week. The country is trying to find allies to legalize the international trade in ivory, which has been banned for more than 30 years.

Zimbabwe is doing everything possible to legalize the international trade in ivory, which has been banned for more than 30 years. Today, the country, which is home to a quarter of Africa’s elephants, one of the few growing populations of the giant land mammal in the world, is trying to find allies to make this ambition a reality.

During the week, Zimbabwe has invited representatives from fifteen countries to a conference on the subject in the Hwange Reserve (West) on the border with Botswana this week and an example of success in protecting elephants.

At this site, some 50,000 specimens share 14,600 km2 of vegetation. The natural park is vast but large areas are needed to feed the pachyderms, the reserve being overcrowded.

This increase is leading to more frequent incidents with humans: sixty people have been killed by elephants in the country since the beginning of the year and 72 in the last year, according to the government. Note that according to conservationists, there are about 100,000 specimens in the country, which is almost twice the capacity of its parks.

In addition, Zimbabwe is seeing an increase of 5% per year in its population. Southern African countries account for 70% of the continent’s elephants. International trade in ivory has been banned since 1989 by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Extraordinary sales were authorized in 1999 and 2008.

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“It is difficult to find a middle ground,” Tourism and Environment Minister Mangliso Nadhalovu said in a statement. Some locals wonder why “elephants take priority over their lives”.

Last week, Zimbabwe solicited support from European countries for the sale of its stockpile worth $600 million. About 50 organizations fighting against the international ivory trade have signed a declaration condemning any measures that go against the protection of endangered species in some parts of the world.

Sami Nemli with AFP/ECO Inspirations





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