Kenya leads opposition to lifting CITES ivory trade ban, seeks lion trophy trade ban
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 2004:
NAIROBI–Kenya will again lead the opposition to lifting the
global embargo on ivory and rhino horn trafficking at the October
2004 conference of the 166 parties to the Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species in Bangkok, Thailand, Kenyan
assistant minister for the environment and natural resources George
Khaniri announced on August 26.
Kenya is also proposing to ban international traffic in
African lion trophies, but the Kenyan recommendation is opposed by
the U.S. and Britain, two of the nations with the most lion hunters.
The wild African lion population is believed to have fallen
70% since 1996, to just 23,000, distributed among 89 locations.
Half live in the Masai Mara and Serengeti region of Kenya and
Tanzania, the Selous game reserve in Tanzania, Kruger National Park
in South Africa, and the Okavango Delta of Botswana.
Khaneri told The Nation that Kenya now has 28,000 elephants
and 500 rhinos, up from 16,000 and 250 since CITES imposed the ivory
and rhino horn trade bans in 1989.
Anticipating that the ivory and rhino horn embargoes might
soon be eased or lifted, poachers typically raiding from Somalia
have recently escalated their activity, as often occurs on the eve
of a CITES meeting.
Khaniri said that poachers had killed at least 108 Kenyan elephants
and 33 black rhinos in 2003-2004.
“Law enforcement officers have also seized 253 pieces of
ivory totaling 1,223 kilograms in 53 incidents across the country,”
Two Somali poachers were killed and a third escaped with
multiple wounds after a dawn firefight on August 3 near Thambanguchi,
in Tsavo East National Park. The Somali poaching gangs are typically
associated with warlord militias, often aligned or associated with
Namibian permanent secretary for environment and tourism
Malan Lindeque announced back in May 2004 that Nambia will seek CITES
authorization to export 2,000 kilos of ivory per year, and to permit
Nile crocodile hunting. Namibia claims 11,000 elephants, up from
5,400 before the ivory embargo, and has stockpiles of about 40
metric tons of tusks. About 75% were seized from poachers.
Repeatedly failing to convince CITES that it has elephant
poaching and illegal ivory trafficking under control, and therefore
able to sell only 20 metric tons of stockpiled ivory in the past
decade, the Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Management Authority in August
sold 554 kilos of ivory to local merchants for just $3,214–about 3%
of the pre-embargo price, and also substantially less than the going
rate for ivory in legal sales of stockpiles taken from culled “rogue”
elephants or consficated from poachers.
Occurring amid a series of scandals involving Zimbabwean
wildlife management, the deal raised immediate suspicion.
“We still have stockpiles of ivory, and we need to continue
selling to avoid expenses of storage,” Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife
Management Authority director-general Morris Mutsambiwa told the
government-controlled Harare Herald.
The European Commission in early August 2004 stated that it
cannot agree to resuming the commercial ivory trade “unless it is
clear that this will not lead to increased poaching. Some southern
African countries have been very successful in protecting their
elephant populations,” the EC document continued, noting the claims
of South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe that
they have too many elephants.
“The need to prevent any ivory from entering the market
generates stockpiles that impose a big security burden on these
countries,” the EC concluded.