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Monday, June 17, 2024
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KAZA implored to pull out of CITES

Story by Tichaona Kurewa

KAVANGO Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA) member states are reconsidering their membership to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in the wake of unfair treatment by the international body.

KAZA member states have been at the receiving end of CITES’ unfair treatment through various embargoes in the trade of wildlife species and products.

This has led to several challenges including shortage of funding for conservation activities and an increase in human-wildlife conflict while local communities are not benefiting from their natural resources.

“The decisions that are made are not based on science, the decisions are made on emotions, on populism and on politics and this is what has prevented SADC to legitimately trade in natural resources. It has now become absolutely a fixed pattern in CITES that the rest of the world is comfortable with this status quo that there is no trade.

“I believe that nothing will change, it is futile to continue to submit proposals and make technical arguments when the opposition doesn’t want to hear that. It needs political action, it is a political problem, it’s not a conservation problem, and it’s not a scientific problem. The strongest measure that SADC can make is to leave, but maybe not all countries because they are not all in the same situation.

“Those member states with strong elephant population and huge stockpiles of ivory and other wildlife products, they should leave CITES to make the strongest possible demonstration that they reject the current unfair regime and they may decide to come back on their own terms,” said Namibia’s conservation scientist, Mr Malan Lindeque.

Zimparks’ director general, Dr Fulton Mangwanya said, “This is actually a challenge that we have friction, this will actually force some states to lack trust in the CITES set-up because there are people who are being paid by NGOs to oppose scientific arguments. If this happens, CITES become really useless and that’s why people are saying CITES is no longer useful to us, let’s pull out.”

Markets for ivory and related products will be secured outside CITES, an international body with a mandate to regulate the trade in endangered species.

“If they advertise that, they have ivory for sale, they are no longer part of CITES so, they are no longer constrained by the CITES arrangements, people will come and buy, what they do with the ivory is their problem, how they will get out of the country with it is their problem,” added Mr Malan Lindeque.

KAZA is made up of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe which hold half of Africa’s elephant population.

Conservationists are convinced the member states have the power to leverage on the big pool to make a bold statement to the world.

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