Ivory Stockpile

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Botswana, like other countries with elephant populations has stockpiles of ivory and is facing varying regulations and restrictions on ivory trade from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Last week, the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) countries of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe met in Livingstone, Zambia to deliberate on issues of conservation and human-well being in the region. Ivory stockpiles in respective KAZA states was in the agenda at the Livingstone Summit. It is important to note that KAZA states share common themes and principles when it comes to ivory stockpiles and trade in wildlife products. These views may be influenced by:

Conservation: All KAZA member states prioritise the conservation of wildlife, including elephants. They recognize the importance of protecting these iconic species and their habitats for future generations.

Illegal Wildlife Trade: KAZA member states are concerned about the illegal trade in ivory and its impact on elephant populations. They support efforts to combat poaching and trafficking through strengthened law enforcement measures and international cooperation.

Sustainable Use: Member states view the sustainable utilisation of natural resources, including ivory, as a potential source of revenue for conservation and local communities.

Community Involvement: KAZA member states recognise the importance of involving local communities in conservation efforts and prioritize initiatives that promote community-based natural resource management and benefit-sharing from wildlife-related activities.

International Agreements: Member states adhere to international agreements and conventions, such as CITES, which regulate the trade in endangered species like elephants and ivory. Their views on ivory stockpiles are influenced by these agreements and the obligations they entail.

For Botswana to legally sell ivory stockpiles, several steps must typically be taken in accordance with international regulations and agreements, particularly those established by CITES. Here’s a general outline of what is typically required:

CITES Approval: Botswana must seek and obtain approval from CITES to sell her ivory stockpile. This approval usually involves demonstrating that the sale will not negatively impact elephant populations and that the proceeds will be used for conservation efforts.

Inventory and Monitoring: Botswana must conduct a comprehensive inventory of its ivory stockpile to determine the quantity, origin, and legality of the ivory. This inventory is essential for transparency and ensuring that only legal ivory is included in any potential sale.

Legislation and Regulation: Botswana must have robust legislation and regulatory frameworks in place to combat illegal poaching and trafficking of ivory. This includes strict enforcement measures and penalties for wildlife crime.

Consultation and Transparency: Botswana must engage in consultations with relevant stakeholders, including conservation organizations, local communities, and other countries, to ensure transparency and address concerns about the sale.

Conservation Commitments: Botswana is required to commit to using the proceeds from the ivory sale for elephant conservation efforts and community development projects aimed at reducing human-elephant conflicts and promoting sustainable livelihoods.

Compliance with International Standards: Botswana must comply with international standards for the trade in endangered species, including regulations set by CITES and other relevant agreements.

The process for selling ivory stockpiles can be complex and contentious, with debates about the potential impacts on elephant populations, the effectiveness of enforcement measures, and the ethics of trading in ivory.

Therefore, any decision to sell ivory stockpiles should be carefully considered and subject to thorough scrutiny and evaluation by both domestic and international stakeholders. In my next week submission, I will make suggestion on how Botswana should introduce a value chain approach and seek other markets to benefit from her elephants without necessarily relying on CITES.

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