Zimbabwe has endorsed the resolutions of the elephant summit, which was held in Hwange recently, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa told journalists after Tuesday’s cabinet meeting.
The main highlights of the conference deliberations included adopting a consensus that the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) should acknowledge the conservation efforts of southern African States and reward them by allowing the disposal of ivory stockpiles.
Domestic ivory trade should also be permitted, with the sovereignty of states and their rights to sustainable use of wildlife being respected.
The participating countries also emphasised the need to generate revenues through the sale of elephant and wildlife products by developing a viable instrument that would enable them to sell ivory stockpiles to raise funds for conservation, given that the CITES ban is depriving the sector of critical funding for conservation.
The conference also agreed on the need to harmonise policy and legislation and manage elephants as a collective unit across borders, through the promotion of Trans-frontier Conservation Areas, so that Africa speaks with one voice on the issue of elephant management.
CITES, the United Nations body imposed a global ban on ivory sales in 1989 to stem a wave of poaching.
Since the ban, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia were only allowed to sell stockpiles in 1998 in a one of sale.
Zimbabwe has already warned that if it is not allowed to sell its 130 tonnes of ivory, estimated to be worth US$600 million, it may pull out of the CITES.
Conservation advocates said Africa had always had a divided vote and will step up lobbying West and East African countries to support its bid.
Kenya and other members of the African Elephant Coalition, whose 32 members are mostly East and West African countries that have fewer elephants have been opposing southern Africa’s bid to engage in international trade of Ivory.
Zimbabwe has an estimated population of 100 000 elephants, more than double the holding capacity.
The ballooning number of elephants has resulted in human-wildlife conflict, which sometimes resulted in people’s death.
Recently, Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu said that Zimbabwe would attend the next CITES meeting in November in Panama to present a strong position.
He said the country was willing to defend its position, even outside of CITES, suggesting that it may out.
“We are clear that we are not going to CITES to beg them. We are going to CITES to present our strong position, a position which we are willing to defend, even if it means being outside CITES,” he said.
“We are there in CITES to share our success stories for the benefit of those countries who want to also experience the successes in the conservation that we have experienced; not to be lectured on how we conserve our wildlife.
“We are left with limited choices. If this CITES is not decisive on this critical matter, we will be left with no choice but to go the culling way or maybe consider engaging our affairs outside CITES,” Minister Ndlovu added.
The Parties to CITES are collectively referred to as the Conference of the Parties. Every two to three years, the Conference of the Parties meets to review the implementation of the Convention. These meetings are often referred to as a “CoP”.