The Source ISSUE NO.7 22 August 2019 – CITES CoP18 Notes

CoP18 — Geneva, Switzerland
Compiled by Emmanuel Koro, African environmental journalist who has extensively written on environment and development issues in Africa

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Southern Africa rural communities hope for a yes-vote for ivory trade today.

CITES nations reject Kenya’s proposal to shut all domestic ivory markets.

South Africa allowed hunting black rhino.

World’s biggest rhino owner auctions a South African property valued at US$500,000 to finance his white rhino conservation efforts.

CITES: Where those who don’t have wildlife have the Power to tell wildlife owners not to trade
in their wildlife and its products. The West is rich.
An African continent where many people die without exercising their rights to trade in wildlife and its products. Africa is poor.

Southern African rural communities representatives have expressed optimism that CITES member countries will today vote for Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe’s ivory trade bid, in order to benefit elephant conservation. It’s the moment of truth for all of them, including Chobe Chief, Kgosi Rebecca Banika. Chief Banika has been preparing for this day with great expectations and attended a CITES preparatory meeting in April 2019 in South Africa.

• “I am hopeful that the CITES member countries will vote for SADC countries ivory trade proposal,” said Ishmael Chaukura of Zimbabwe’s Masoka CAMPFIRE community. “It will be a big threat to elephants themselves and other wildlife if they don’t allow us to trade in ivory because we have an elephant overpopulation problem. I don’t enjoy living in a world where my fate and that of my wildlife is determined by other people [who exercise authority without taking responsibility for the negative impacts of actions.] That is very unfair.”

• A Namibian Conservancy manager of Tsiseb Conservancy, Erick Xaweb said that he hopes to take good ivory trade news back to his chief. “The expectations of the people of Namibia are that ivory must be sold to address the problems of elephant conservation and to compensate victims of human and wildlife conflict. We condemn the Western animal rights groups vote-buying at CoP18. They declare African elections not free and fair but not so at CITES CoP18 where our votes are being stolen.”

THE SOURCE COMMENTS: A yes-vote for ivory trade will save the African elephants of Southern Africa while a no-vote would once again fail to save a single elephant as has happened for the past 44-years. Ironically, the ban increases demand, which in turn increases poaching and illegal ivory sales. The indicators of the failure of previous bans include the ongoing illegal ivory trade seizures worldwide.

THE SOURCE COMMENTS: The increase in seizures suggests a ramping up of poaching. But the truth that is never told is that for every shipment seized, there are many more that get through undetected. The criminal syndicates send multiple shipments at the same time, willing to sacrifice one or two so that the others reach their destination.

Without trade in ivory, we see no hope in achieving Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, as the CITES Secretariat hopes to do. Why? Without trade in ivory, the African elephant cannot pay for its upkeep and protection but Southern African countries are still obliged to look after it. This forces our Governments to divert scarce resources to elephant conservation and not human development. They then use for elephant conservation – treasury money that was originally set aside for poverty alleviation, provision of clean drinking water and road construction as well as school and hospital construction in rural areas.

• The Western countries’ racist, slave-master-servant relationship with Africa will be tested again today, through the outcome of the expected vote for the Southern African countries’ ivory trade proposal.

THE SOURCE COMMENTS: A yes-vote for ivory trade would impressively indicate a progressive and non-racist Western world that now recognizes the rights of Southern African countries to trade in stockpiled ivory harvested from their elephant overpopulated national parks and elephant-rich wilderness areas. On the other hand, a vote against the ivory trade would confirm that the continued spirit of slavery, racism, oppression, including colonial attitudes exhibited at the 1884-85 Berlin Conference, where Africa was partitioned into Western countries’ colonies. The world is watching.
• Yesterday, a substantial number of the more than100 nations attending the CITES Conference of the Parties rejected a Kenyan proposal to shut down all domestic ivory markets, worldwide. They argued that CITES has no mandate to interfere with domestic markets.

THE SOURCE tabulated 36 nations speaking in opposition to the proposal and only 11 in favor. The American chairman of Committee II called on the US delegation knowing that it would state opposition to Kenya, suggesting that all nations with domestic ivory markets report to CoP19 on what steps they have taken to ensure those markets don’t contribute to poaching. The Chair eventually endorsed the decision against ivory markets shutdown and the Kenyan initiative collapsed. There is no doubt that all countries with legal ivory markets will assure the 2022 convention that products offered at those markets have no connection to poaching.

South Africa’s proposal to amend the hunting quota for black rhino from the current five rhinos per year to 0.5% of its 2000 total rhino population was accepted on Monday. Kenya, Gabon, and Senegal had initially opposed the proposal but finally accepted it after a lunch break meeting with South Africa. Thereafter, the CITES Committee endorsed it. This proposal will be taken to the Plenary Session for formal approval.

Meanwhile, the international ban on rhino has forced South Africa-based world’s biggest rhino owner John Hume to auction one of his properties on 25 September 2019, for US$500,000 to secure the future of his near-threatened 1,732 white rhinos for generations to come. The property, Mauricedale Nature Estate is located 15km south of the world-famous Kruger National Park in South Africa. So far, 100 South African private rhino reserves have been closed due to the high rhino management costs. The rhinos are not paying their way as long as the rhino horn trade ban remains in force.

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