Magazine article Geographical

Ivory Showdown in Nairobi

Magazine article Geographical

Ivory Showdown in Nairobi

Article excerpt

A fierce confrontation between African countries over lifting the ban on international trade in elephant ivory is expected this month when delegates from 134 countries gather for the biannual meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Zimbabwe, with an elephant population of more than 70,000, is spearheading the campaign to lift the ten-year-old ban on the ivory trade. The move is opposed by Kenya, with support from Uganda and Tanzania and a number of Western environmental organisations.

Zimbabwe has accused anti-trade lobby groups and governments that favour the ban of secretly sponsoring elephant poaching. The country believes they are doing so to convince international authorities the ban is still necessary because poaching is increasing again. The showdown is scheduled for 10 to 20 April when CITES negotiations on species to qualify for bans on international trade take place at the United Nations Environmental Programme headquarters in Nairobi.

Zimbabwean officials have recognised an upsurge in elephant poaching since they sold stockpiles of ivory to Japan last April in a sale allowed by CITES. The sale was a one-off, involving 60 tons from Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana. Reports in the Zimbabwean media claim that at least 350 elephants were killed by poachers in the country last year, with 31 killed in a single park in a fortnight. But a captured poacher alleged that many were sponsored by unnamed Western governments, wildlife and environmental groups and some West African states determined to stop CITES from giving Zimbabwe further concessions to sell ivory. …

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