Govt re­jects de­mands to de­stroy 96 tonnes ivory

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Aux­ilia Ka­ton­go­mara Chron­i­cle Re­porter

THE Gov­ern­ment re­fused to bow down to pres­sure at a re­cent wildlife meeting and re­jected de­mands to burn 96 tonnes of ivory worth about $9 bil­lion.

Re­spond­ing to a ques­tion in Par­lia­ment on Wed­nes­day, the Min­is­ter of En­vi­ron­ment, Wa­ter and Cli­mate, Cde Op­pah Muchin­guri-Kashiri, said dur­ing the just ended Con­ven­tion on In­ter­na­tional Trade in Endangered Species meeting held in Jo­han­nes­burg from Septem­ber 24 to Oc­to­ber 5, the country main­tained ground to keep the stock­piles and would sell them at the right time.

“We have a prob­lem, Zim­babwe as a mem­ber of CITES and the coun­tries all over the world look at the endangered species.

“There are cer­tain coun­tries in Africa like Botswana, Kenya and Chad that no longer have wild animals and they are push­ing that there should be a ban on the sale of ivory,” she said.

“When we went to CITES we fought very hard be­cause they wanted us to burn our ivory that we have stock­piled and we re­fused that. The quan­ti­ties and the val­ues that we had placed are very high and we will wait for an op­por­tune time to sell it.”

A nine-year mora­to­rium was sanc­tioned by the CITES in 2007 in a bid to curb il­le­gal trade in ivory, which threat­ened both elephants and rhi­nos with ex­tinc­tion.

Min­is­ter Muchin­guri-Kashiri is on record as say­ing the country is sit­ting on stock­piles worth about $9,1 bil­lion.

Re­spond­ing to a ques­tion on whether the ivory could be used as se­cu­rity, the Min­is­ter said in­ter­na­tion­ally the ivory was val­ue­less.

“I would want to re­spond by say­ing that it is il­le­gal be­cause as it stands right now it is only coun­tries like us, Ja­pan and North Korea that have seen value in this. China has closed its do­mes­tic trade in ivory. So as it stands, our ivory in­ter­na­tion­ally has no value, there­fore, we can­not use it as se­cu­rity,” she said.

Cde Muchin­guri-Kashiri said although Zim­babwe is un­able to sell ele­phant tusks, in the in­terim it can make per­sonal ar­ti­facts, ear­rings and ban­gles, but a per­mit is needed to do so. “When­ever tourists come to Zim­babwe, they must have a per­mit from their country of ori­gin to im­port the ear­rings that are made of ele­phant tusks. Fur­ther­more, when­ever tourists come to Zim­babwe they must ap­ply to the Na­tional Parks and Wildlife Man­age­ment so that they can be able to buy ear­rings,” she said. Cde Muchin­guri-Kashiri said the process is cum­ber­some and de­ters vis­i­tors from buy­ing the ar­ti­facts. “We are not tired as Zim­babwe; we will keep on fight­ing so that we are not banned from trad­ing in ivory,” she said. — @Aux­il­iaK

Cde Op­pah Muchin­guri-Kashiri

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