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Review CITES ban on ivory exports…

This was about incinerating confiscated/’condemned’ ivory tusks, regardless of how they were obtained! [Daily News-POLITIKA: August 1, 2011]. There’re two sources of ivory: legal and illegal. An example of latter is ivory obtained through poaching and other illegal activity…

The former source is elephants which die from natural causes, and the ivory falls into the right hands, namely government institutions. Tanzania does have an ‘Ivory Room’ where ivory tusks, rhino horns and suchlike ‘natural’ treasures are stored, no matter how they were obtained! A year ago, the Ivory Room in Dar was ‘home’ to 89.8 tonnes of ivory the export of which CITES has banned. For all I know, the stuff could still be lying there gathering dust…

In actual fact, CITES — the (UN) Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species — is the self-styled international ‘custodian’ of endangered ‘creatures,’ both fauna and flora. These include the Elephant and Rhinoceros. The Convention bans international trade in such items, arguing that such trade/trafficking fuels poaching and other illegal activity.

[Daily News: April 22, 2010]. •The corollary to this is that reduced illegal activity would ensure preservation of endangered species globally. This is, of course, proving controversial and highly debatable. Decades down that CITES Road since it came into force July 1, 1975, there’s no empirical evidence beyond doubt that the ban has worked as desired!

On the contrary, the general perception’s that related illegal activity has been on the rise with the passage of time! Arabs in the Middle East and elsewhere still cherish daggers whose handles are hewn from elephant tusks, regardless of how they were obtained... On the other hand, orientals and the disillusioned of this world continue to live and believe the myth that rhino horn does have aphrodisiac properties...

And, for their part, wealthy Sheiks and fanatics of Nature will give an arm, a leg and half their fortune to lay their remaining hand (so to speak) on live animals like giraffes, pangolin, reptiles and other exotic creatures of Nature to ‘adorn’ artificial wildlife parks. Etc, etc…

In the event, elephants, rhinos and their cousins this side of Heaven continue to be decimated with the sole view of meeting the seemingly endless demand for priggish masculinity! Indeed, some countries which are victims of wildlife poaching have faithfully gone along with the CITES requirements. Kenya, Namibia and — most recently — Gabon, have dutifully incinerated confiscated ivory in public, with no mean measure of glee! Kenya did this on July 20, 2011.

[HabariLeo: July 22, 2011]. Gabon went through the same antics amid global-wide publicity last month. Tanzania did the same a few years ago. In due course of time and events, however, the Govt. sought CITES permission to export the ivory and other natural/ wildlife items in its custody – but was denied out of hand!

The justification/rationale for this escapes logic! It costs a small fortune to effectively fight poaching and similarly illegal activity. Why not authorize sale of such items in the open, and under controlled conditions, so that the proceeds can augment funding spent on fighting the illegalities? Why not?

I ask you! As already noted, CITES notwithstanding, poaching and other illegal activity, including trade/trafficking in endangered species, have been on the increase rather than decrease. In other words, the intended objective hasn’t been attained 37 years after the Convention was promulgated. All that hullabaloo’s little more than tragicomic.

Some Governments that are signatory to CITES melodramatically go through the motions of complying with the Convention. Governments which aren’t signatories thereto don’t have to enact the incineration joke — perhaps having correctly diagnosed the futility of it all even as they go laughing all the way to the bank! Even the Worldwide Wildlife Fund (WWFGlobal) has also recognised the reality on the ground…

To quote the Fund on Gabon’s incineration of ivory (June 27, 2012): “The decision comes at a time of intense poaching pressure in Central Africa, where the illegal killing of elephants for ivory is at record levels.

The action by the Gabonese Government is to be seen against the backdrop of elephant poaching levels being the worst in a decade — and recorded ivory seizures being at their highest levels since 1989…! So, where does that leave us? Up a creek in a leaking canoe without a paddle, I say… Hence this call for an urgent review of the CITES operations.

Cheers!

LAST week, following the inauguration of the newlyelected ...

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Author: KARL LYIMO

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