BY PROBLEM MASAU
ZIMBABWE yesterday begged the European Union (EU) to support its plea for a once-off sale of its ivory stockpile at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) meeting scheduled for later this year in Panama.
Addressing European diplomats during a tour of the ivory stockpile in Harare, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) director-general Felton Mangwanya said the country’s ivory stockpile was worth more than US$600 million.
Mangwanya said Zimbabwe felt “betrayed” by the world and was being punished for being a good conservation model.
“We need the support of the EU for Zimbabwe to be allowed to do a once-off sale of our national ivory stock. We feel betrayed after adhering to the conditions in Annotation II pertaining to the listing of our elephant population. Instead of getting a pat on the back and the carrot for doing well, we seldom see the support we expect to legally benefit from the resources we are managing well,” Mangwanya said.
“Our desire is for Zimbabwe to remain a shining example of successful and sustainable elephant conservation in the world,” he said.
Mangwanya said being barred from selling ivory did not encourage Zimbabwe to grow its elephant population since there were no incentives for it, while local communities would be discouraged from conserving wildlife due to lack of benefits.
Switzerland ambassador to Zimbabwe, Niculin Jager, who spoke on behalf of the European diplomats, said: “Zimbabwe has a rich biodiversity and through our governments and foundations in our countries, we are keen to continue providing support towards conservation of the biodiversity. Conservation and prevention of illegal wildlife trade is an international issue because of the involvement of criminal syndicates in illegal wildlife trade, hence there is need to strengthen international co-operation.”
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