EU, UK favour Dar’s ivory sale bid (Tanzania)
CATHERINE RIUNGU, East African
March 22 2010
In a surprise turn of events, Tanzania is this week likely to win its bid to sell its stockpile of ivory, estimated to be worth $15 million.
The vote on Tanzania’s proposal to be allowed to sell its ivory stockpile is due this week amid reports that the counter-proposal 20-year ban on ivory sales that has divided Kenya and Tanzania down the middle is likely to fail, partly because Britain and other members of the EU are refusing to support it.
The news that proposals to ban trade in bluefin tuna and polar bears were overwhelmingly rejected last week at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), meeting in Doha, Qatar, prompted the Times of London to write:
“A plan for a 20-year ban on ivory sales, to protect African elephants, is also likely to fail in the coming days — partly because Britain and other members of the EU are refusing to support it. Delegates are instead expected to approve a weak compromise, which would encourage poaching by allowing the sale of ivory being stored by several African nations.”
The number of elephants lost to poaching in Kenya has quadrupled in the past two years.
Kenya is one of seven African nations proposing a 20-year moratorium on sales of stockpiled ivory, while Tanzania is among countries opposed to the ban, saying that it not only needs to dispose of its ivory stockpile, it also wants to reduce it elephant population.
A main plank of Tanzania’s argument is that it is spending $75,000 annually on security and storage of ivory.
Last week, a report in the Gulf News was quoted saying that the Cites secretariat has rejected Tanzania’s bid to be allowed to sell its ivory — citing concerns about control of poaching and illegal trade in ivory — but Zambia’s case to sell 22 tonnes was being considered.
Reports indicate that Cites was concerned that if given the nod, Tanzania would slip into large-scale poaching.
Britain supported a one-off sale of 105 tonnes in 2008, arguing that it would reduce poaching by satisfying demand.
But Kenya says that the one-off sales have expanded the market in China and Japan for ivory ornaments, and that this in turn has encouraged poaching.
According to the Times, the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it was still considering whether to support a lowering of the Cites protection for Tanzanian and Zambian elephants.
Robbie Marsland, UK Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare said it was disappointing that the government and European Union have not gone into this meeting with a much stronger message against the ivory trade and in favour of elephant protection.
A report by an international team of 27 scientists and conservationists concluded that previous one-off sales had contributed to a rise in poaching and failed to deliver the promised conservation benefits, resulting in “only short-term profitability to the few individuals who ran the scheme.
Tanzania and Zambia want to sell 112 tonnes of ivory, and have submitted proposals that would allow the sale to take place by reducing their elephants’ level of protection under Cites trade rules.
International trade in ivory was banned in 1989, but since then Cites has agreed several “one-off sales” of stockpiled ivory on condition that the proceeds were spent on elephant conservation.
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Save the Elephants News Service Researcher
For further information on elephants please see Save the Elephants’ web site