Some West African states have proposed for the up listing of elephants in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe from Appendix II to Appendix I at the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) that will take place in Panama from November 14-25, 2022.
Should the countries be successful in their bid for the up listing, this will prohibit any commercial trade in live elephants and ivory in these countries.
In an interview, Ngamiland Council of Non-Governmental Organization (NCONGO) Director Siyoka Simasiku has regarded the proposed move as violation of rights of communities living in elephant prone areas.
He said the communities have the right to utilize resources in their area as long as it is in a sustainable manner, adding that banning consumptive tourism will spell doom for their livelihoods.
Simasiku further noted that hunting through quotas is done following management plans that are approved by the ministry of Environment and Tourism. This he said is done to ensure hunting is used as an effective management tool while also providing the necessary economic benefits for community members.
“Elephants in Botswana currently exceed the carrying capacity of management areas and that poses a threat to other species, mind you elephants are heavy feeders and if they are over populated in an area it will negatively affect other species as they will now compete for grazing land,” Simasiku has said.
To address the issue, Simasiku has said Southern African countries have formed a new committee named Community Leaders Network which compromises nine countries with Botswana being the treasurer represented by NCONGO, Zambia as the chairperson represented by Zambia resource board, Zimbabwe as the vice and Namibia as the Secretary.
“This forum compromised of states that practice Community Based Natural Resource Management to make our voices heavier in lobbying against the ban of elephant trading at conventions such as CITES,” Simasiku said.
He noted that the forum has in July went to the European parliament and Germany to lobby for elephant trading as they are among countries that want elephant hunting and trading of its trophies to be among the animals listed in CITES.
Simasiku has since noted that NCONGO is currently working with the government to mobilize community members to attend the CITES convention.