ED ratchets up pressure on international community over Zim US$600 million ivory stock pile

Report by Farayi Machamire in Victoria Falls

President Emmerson Mngagagwa on Monday morning reiterated his call on the international community to enable nations   to freely trade in hunting products to  benefit from their natural resources endowments.

Addressing wildlife experts and delegates from 30 African countries among them cabinet ministers and Heads of States, Mnangagwa said the ‘one size fits all approach’ of banning everything under CITES is neither sustainable nor desirable.

Currently Zimbabwe has about US$600 million worth of ivory and rhino horns stocks, most of which, is from natural attrition of those animals, enough money to sustain the operation budget of conservation efforts Mnangagwa said as he officially opened the AU-UN WildLife Economy Summit here.

“If we are allowed to dispose the same under agreed  parameters, the revenue derived therefrom would suffice to finance our operational conservation efforts for the next 20 years,” he said.

Mnangagwa said it was paramount that the world embraces the principle of a shared responsibility where natural resources are utilized in accordance with the principle of sustainability.

“Zimbabwe subscribes to the founding principles of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species, (CITES) and remain committed to the adherence of its protocols and rules,” Mnangagwa said.

“We are gravely concerned by the one-size-fits all approach, where banning of trade is creeping into the CITES decision making processes,” he continued; adding:

“We call upon the institution to resist the temptation of being a ‘policing institution’ and instead be a developmental one which promotes the intricate balance between conservation and sustainable utilisation of all wildlife resources.”

 “In relation to the conservation of elephants, the Savanna elephants, which are predominantly found in Southern Africa, constitute approximately 50 percent of the continent’s elephant species.

Mnangagwa said the region has the largest range area and elephant numbers which extend beyond designated wildlife areas to include communal areas and this success must be duly recognized, “while our voices and concerns given due consideration.”

The Heads of State gracing the event include Zambian President EC Lungu, Botswana Leader His Excellency Masisi and the Namibian President Hage Geingob.

Meanwhile, Enviroment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Priscah Mupfumira said the summit affords the continent a unique opportunity for cross fertilisation of ideas in wildlife management.

“We also hope it can unite all stakeholders and diverse players in the wildlife sector. These range from political leadership, communities and the private sector who all need to join hands to come up with ideas and solutions designed to bring about sustainable socio-economic benefits to our people,” she said.