Kenya, India fight to save elephants

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2000:

NAIROBI––The U.S. and Britain in mid-March remained noncommittal as to whether they would support motions to restore the full global ban on ivory sales at the 11th triennial meeting of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. The motions are to be introduced by Kenya, hosting the April 10-20 meeting, and India.

Lobbying for the restored ban in Washington D.C. and London in early March, Kenya Wildlife Service director Nehemiah Rotich pointed toward an explosive worldwide rise in elephant poaching since 1997, when CITES allowed Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia to sell ivory seized from poachers and/or taken from elephants culled as “surplus” or for alleged crop-raiding.

Rotich and former KWS chief Richard Leakey, now heading the entire Kenya civil servie, believe the U.S. and Britain may favor applications by Tanzania and South Africa to join Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia in further ivory sales. Japan is the major buyer.

Rotich said Kenya would support a bid by the U.S., Britain, Australia, and Ireland to protect great white sharks, whale sharks, and basking sharks.

The ivory-exporting and would-be ivory exporting nations claim they have poaching under control, but even as Rotich spoke at a March 8 press conference, rangers in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, were shooting it out with suspected rhino poachers in the Umfolozi Wilderness area. No one was hurt, but the suspects escaped.

South African National Parks chief Mavuso Msimang denied a March 10 report by Fiona Macleod of the Johannesburg Mail & Guardian that the government has authorized killing 963 elephants at Kruger National Park this year, beginning after the CITES triennial, and plans to kill between 400 and 1,000 elephants per year through 2005.

CITES investigators meanwhile confirmed in February that senior Zimbabwe Defence Forces personnel were involved in smuggling parrots out of the Congo, using military facilities. The disclosure coincided with the forced resignation of former director of National Parks and Wildlife Willas Mokombe for alleged embezzling.

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