Opening the door for ivory trade
Recently South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia made a concerted effort to open up a market for future ivory trade. Expectedly, the request was dismissed by the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species and Botswana and Angola voted against its neighbours.
While Namibia and South Africa find themselves in the midst of a poaching crisis, Botswana seems to be winning the war on poaching with their notorious shoot on site policy. Namibia and South Africa on the back of oppression and on the basis of their respective constitutions respect human rights.
The success or apparent success of Botswana’s anti-poaching effectiveness stems from its aggression towards poachers and the good work the Botswana Defence Force puts in to protect wildlife. Its apparent success is its blatant inability to identify a local fishing in the Chobe River and the growth of its elephant population estimated at over 200 000.
I was recently informed by a well known game farmer that he could get anyone an elephant delivered to his doorstep FOR FREE. Now for a moment consider its size and the logistical nightmare involved in getting an elephant from point A to point B, the personnel required and the exhaustive permits one would need to complete the process. This ought to sound like a tall order right, NOT it now seems.
I am pretty sure communities in conservancies across the country would be very open for the removal of these beautiful but often destructive mammals. Meanwhile a lot of tree huggers in Europe and the United States are unaware of what we have to contend with. Its odd to think that while Africans have been living with wild animals for centuries, it creates doubt in our mind that we can co-exist successfully with wild animals.
On the CITES issue only God knows why Angola and particularly Mozambique chose to side with Botswana on the issue. Both countries provide an excellent corridor for the smuggling of ivory products and if we as a southern African community have to be honest with ourselves, the clear winners with regards to conservation remain Namibia and South Africa.
We cannot ignore the impact conservation programmes have had on communities across the country and with proper regulation the possibilities are indeed but beautiful. If one rhino or elephant can create upwards of US$5 million in its lifetime, it bodes well for our conservation coffers, rural development initiatives and foreign revenue through trophy hunting.
Who’s problem is it if the Asians think keratin enhances their sex lives or that American and European hunters have to compensate for something lacking, we cannot be made to feel bad if we recognise the opportunity to gain from a proper ivory trade.
Yes we will make mistakes but I guarantee you we will sustainably make a killing out of ivory trade (pun intended).