Tanzania to Use Its Sh186 Billion Ivory Stockpile For Awareness

Tanzania to Use Its Sh186 billion Ivory Stockpile For Awareness (News Central TV)

Tanzania says it is committed to conserving wildlife, including elephants, and using stockpiled ivory for awareness purposes in an effort to formulate a continent-wide position on the trade in live elephants and ivory stockpiles.

The stance follows a recent ministerial conference in Harare, Zimbabwe, tagged “the Elephant Summit,” whose goal was to build consensus among African countries for the upcoming 19th Conference of the Parties (CoP19), which will be held in Panama in November.

Tanzania was represented by Mary Masanja, the Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, despite the absence of other invited countries such as Kenya, which has repeatedly demanded a total ban on trade in elephant products.

Mary Masanja, Tanzania’s Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism

She stated that Tanzania, along with other Southern African countries present at the meeting, called for the establishment of a special fund to compensate those who would be affected by the direct impact of human-wildlife conflict.

“We also called upon Western countries to stop interfering with in matters regarding conservation in Africa…we will do it the way we see fit,” Masanja said

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Furthermore, Tanzania’s new stance on the issue follows President Samia Hassan’s remarks during the filming of The Royal Tour documentary, in which the President stated that the country’s stockpile would not be sold or destroyed.

“Selling this in an open market, would only send the wrong message, and will likely drive demand, and leading to even more poaching,” she said.

Tanzania made several attempts between 2009 and 2013 to dispose of its stockpiled ivory worth Sh186 billion and a proposal to downgrade the elephant’s endangered status, claiming that the stockpile weighed more than 100 tonnes and was derived from dead or culled animals that were not poached.

While Tanzania sought to sell nearly 200,000 pounds of ivory, worth at least $20 million, Zambia sought to sell 48,000 pounds of ivory.

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According to media reports, both countries claimed that their elephant populations had grown to the point where they were trampling crops and killing too many people.

They also claimed that preventing them from selling stocks derived from natural deaths or controlled culling of problem animals would incite more hostility toward the beasts, which are increasingly viewed as pests by affected communities.

On the other hand, Tanzania’s latest bid to sell its stockpiled ivory was turned down in 2012. This prompted the country to abandon its efforts to sell them in 2013, a decision praised by many stakeholders, including the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF).

Tanzania is known to have one of the highest concentrations of African elephants on the continent.

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), there are only 415,000 African elephants left, down from 10 million in 1930. Their populations, however, have been rapidly increasing in southern Africa.

African elephants are divided into two subspecies: savanna elephants, which live in the plains and lightly wooded savannas of southern and eastern Africa, and forest elephants, which live in the tropical jungles of western and central Africa.

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The majority of African elephants are currently listed in CITES Appendix I, which restricts trade in all products derived from the animals.

The elephant populations in Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa are included in Appendix II, which is less restrictive, but their ivory is not tradeable due to a special annotation.

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