Zimbabwe asked the European Union for help on Monday to sell $600 million in ivory it had accumulated due to a global prohibition on the sale of tusks.
Since 1989, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora has prohibited the international trade in ivory (CITES).
Fulton Mangwanya, director-general of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, told EU ambassadors in Harare that the country has 163,000 tonnes of ivory and 67 tonnes of rhino horns in vaults. He estimated the value of the ivory at around $600 million.
“The burden of managing a stockpile that we cannot derive economic value, or plough back into the communities and conservation of the same species is quite a great pain to us,” he said.
“We kindly request the support of the EU for Zimbabwe to be allowed a once off sale of our national ivory stock,” said Mangwanya.
The EU diplomats were given a tour of Harare’s vaults.
If permitted, Mangwanya said the monies will be utilised to support local residents living near animal preserves.
According to officials, the country can maintain up to 55,000 elephants, but the number has more than doubled to 100,000.
Elephants have killed 60 people so far this year, a conservation success story that has resulted in increased conflict with humans. But the plea did not immediately garner support.
“Conservation and prevention of illegal wildlife trade is an international issue because of the involvement of criminal syndicates in illegal wildlife trade hence there is need to strengthen international cooperation,” the Swiss ambassador Niculin Jager responded on behalf of his colleagues.
Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe, which have the world’s greatest elephant populations, requested the right to sell ivory obtained through natural deaths, confiscations, and culling three years ago.
However, a CITES meeting in Geneva in 2019 rejected such demand.
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