Min­is­ter rub­bishes West’s CITES pro­posal

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Chron­i­cle Cor­re­spon­dent

THE Min­is­ter of En­vi­ron­ment, Wa­ter and Cli­mate, Cde Op­pah Muchin­guri-Kashiri, has rub­bished western pro­pos­als aimed at in­flu­enc­ing CITES to ef­fect a blan­ket re­stric­tion on the com­mer­cial trade of wildlife, say­ing the pro­posal smacks of im­pe­ri­al­is­tic ten­den­cies that seek to un­der­mine the sovereignty of African states.

Min­is­ter Muchin­guri-Kashiri said this at the week­end while giv­ing her me­dia brief at the Sand­ton Con­ven­tion Cen­tre in Jo­han­nes­burg where the CoP17 is tak­ing place.

She noted that it was sad that some western pow­ers were fail­ing to ap­pre­ci­ate sus­tain­able use of wildlife as a key pil­lar to suc­cess­ful con­ser­va­tion meth­ods.

This is de­spite bare ev­i­dence show­ing that sim­i­lar ef­forts have failed to achieve the de­sir­able con­ser­va­tion tar­gets. A point in case be­ing Kenya which has lost 87 per­cent of its rhi­nos to poach­ing since ef­fect­ing a ban on the hunt­ing of the same species in 1977.

“In this re­gard, pro­pos­als that have been put for­ward by some mem­ber states that seek to re­strict in­ter­na­tional trade in wildlife such as the African Ele­phant and African Lion de­feat this no­ble con­ser­va­tion method. The pro­pos­als fail to take into con­sid­er­a­tion the im­por­tant role that com­mu­ni­ties play in wildlife con­ser­va­tion,” Min­is­ter Muchin­guri-Kashiri said.

She added: “Some of the pro­pos­als tabled here at COP 17 seek to close do­mes­tic mar­kets for ivory trade. This pro­posal is a clear in­fringe­ment on the sov­er­eign rights of na­tions. Do­mes­tic trade of wildlife species is out­side the scope of the con­ven­tion and should re­main as such.”

“The pre­am­ble of the CITES Con­ven­tion recog­nises that “Mem­ber States are and should be the best pro­tec­tors of their own wild flora and fauna”. The prin­ci­ples of the con­ven­tion should there­fore be the over­ar­ch­ing guide­line in sub­mit­ting pro­pos­als at CITES COPs.”

Min­is­ter Muchin­guri-Kashiri warned that should CITES rub­ber stamp the pro­posal, a calamity awaited mem­ber states with the largest pop­u­la­tions of the African ele­phants. “Com­mu­ni­ties need to con­tinue re­al­is­ing ben­e­fits from sus­tain­able wildlife man­age­ment. With­out mean­ing­ful ben­e­fits ac­cru­ing to com­mu­ni­ties from wildlife util­i­sa­tion and man­age­ment, com­mu­ni­ties have lit­tle rea­son to pro­tect and con­serve wildlife. As such this may put the species that we wish to pro­tect un­der se­vere stress from poach­ing and their sur­vival will no longer be as­sured,” said the Min­is­ter.

She added: “Zim­babwe firmly sub­scribes to the phi­los­o­phy of sus­tain­able util­i­sa­tion of its wildlife re­sources as op­posed to a pro­tec­tion­ist/anti-use ap­proach which does not bring any di­rect ben­e­fits to the ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties who face the brunt of liv­ing with the peren­nial prob­lem of hu­man-wildlife con­flict.”

Min­is­ter Muchin­guri-Kashiri called for rea­son not emo­tions to pre­vail dur­ing the CoP 17. “South­ern Africa has two thirds of the ele­phant pop­u­la­tion in Africa. Zim­babwe alone has 83 000 ele­phants within its ecosys­tems. Lions and Rhino pop­u­la­tions in South­ern Africa are also steady and grow­ing in some ar­eas.

“Th­ese pop­u­la­tions are a clear in­di­ca­tion that Zim­babwe and other Sadc coun­tries have suc­cess­fully pro­tected and con­served their wildlife re­sources. Some of this suc­cess we owe it to our com­mu­ni­ties, sound wildlife man­age­ment frame­works, po­lit­i­cal will, and fi­nanc­ing from our gov­ern­ments and from sus­tain­able util­i­sa­tion pro­grammes.”

The pres­i­dent of the Zim­babwe Coun­cil of Chiefs, Chief For­tune Charumbira dra­mat­i­cally rub­bished the West’s pro­pos­als liken­ing it to the al­le­gory “of a med­i­cal doc­tor who en­ters the hospi­tal and is­sues a sim­i­lar pre­scrip­tion to all pa­tients therein with­out di­ag­nos­ing their in­di­vid­ual cases.”

Dur­ing a an­swer and ques­tion seg­ment, Min­is­ter Muchin­guri-Kashiri was asked on whether the Zim­bab­wean Gov­ern­ment would con­tinue to ex­port live an­i­mals to China to which she re­sponded: “As I speak to you be­fore my desk is a re­quest from China to buy yet an­other con­sign­ment of live ele­phants. We are yet to look at it. But what should be known is that it’s not China alone which has made such re­quests. There are plenty other coun­tries that we shall name at the op­por­tune time.”

An emo­tion­ally charged, Wil­fried Pabst, a Ger­man busi­ness­man who owns Save Con­ser­vancy, took a swipe at an­i­mal rights groups lob­by­ing for the re­stric­tion of com­mer­cial trade in wildlife describing them as “crim­i­nals so­lic­it­ing donor money un­der false pre­tences.”

Mean­while, Min­is­ter Muchin­guri-Kashiri also un­der­scored the im­por­tance of the par­tic­i­pa­tion of ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties in CITES. “Zim­babwe also be­lieves that com­mu­ni­ties should be at the cen­tre in sus­tain­able util­i­sa­tion of wildlife re­sources. With­out com­mu­nity par­tic­i­pa­tion in wildlife con­ser­va­tion, all our ef­forts will not yield the de­sired re­sults.

“As such com­mu­ni­ties as the ma­jor share­hold­ers of the wildlife re­sources should have a voice in the de­lib­er­a­tions and de­ci­sions made by the Con­fer­ence of Par­ties to CITES. We there­fore strongly ad­vo­cate for the cre­ation of the Ru­ral Com­mit­tee as part of CITES struc­ture.”

See com­ment on Page 4

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