South Africa to sell 30 tons of ivory

Posted by Alastair Otter on June 20, 2007
Posted in Green News

South Africa could earn R40-million from the sale of its elephant ivory, David Mabunda, the chief executive of South African National Parks (SANParks), told The Star newspaper in a report published on June 20 2007.

South Africa will be selling 30 tons of stockpiled tusks to Japan, Mabunda said. This follows last week’s decision by Cities in The Hague to allow a once-off ivory sale by South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana.

The sale of the tusks, which have reportedly been stockpiled since 1992, would be “one of the benefits of good management”, Mabunda told the Star.

“We need money for conservation,” he added.

Cites officials would regulate the process to ensure no illegal ivory “sneaked in”, he told The Star.

After the sale, there will be a nine-year suspension of further sales of raw ivory.

In a press release, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw) welcomed the nine-year ban. However, Michael Wamithi, Ifaw’s elephant programme manager, said: “We believe that any amount of ivory in the market serves as a trigger mechanism for increased poaching and we are therefore concerned about the strain that these additional sales will put on range states’ already stressed enforcement capacities.”

According to Ifaw, at least 20,000 elephants are killed annually for their ivory and the lives of about 100 rangers are lost each year protecting them. “The impact is not only felt in Africa; among the population of 35,000 to 45,000 Asian elephants, only a mere 1,200 tusked males remain.”

The international trade in ivory was banned by Cites in 1989. Since then, pro-trade nations have been lobbying to reopen the trade, says Ifaw. But many African countries remain firmly opposed to reopening it because “any legalisation drives demand, provides incentives for increased poaching and fuels crime”.

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