Namibia is among Sadc countries reviewing their position as members to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), after they were denied permission this week for a once-off sale of their ivory stockpiles.
In Namibia’s case, the country is sitting on N$125 million worth of ivory. The reasons for being in possession of such volumes of ivory differ, including the fact that some elephants died naturally and thus their ivory became available.
It goes without saying, some of the ivories were seized from poachers. Namibia’s position has all along been that revenues generated from its ivory stockpile would be re-invested into the conservation of elephants and other wild animals that have become prime targets of poachers, a visionary stance.
By denying Namibia the right to sell once off its ivory stock, Cites has placed Namibian wildlife into further risk of being wiped off the earth’s face by merciless poachers seeking a shortcut to becoming instant millionaires at the expense of these majestic animals.
Protecting wildlife is costly. For countries like Namibia, it may mean having to compromise human lives in order to protect animals – if money meant to fend off the advances of current devastating droughts, for example, have to be shifted to the forests to protect wildlife.
The world has an obligation to protect lives of not only animals but human beings too.
By wanting to trade off its stocks, Namibia is showing the political will to end wildlife crime. Highly organised international criminal syndicates are profiting from the illegal ivory trade at the expense of many African nations that do not have enough resources to protect their wildlife, Namibia included.
Inability to protect these animals threatens national security and stunts economic growth through tourism. In 2020, tourism-related value added is expected to reach N$26.4 billion (11.7 percent of overall GDP) and employment generation is likely to be above 123,000 jobs (16.4 percent of total employment).
But if efforts to protect our wildlife through auctioning the stocks in our possession are thwarted by Cites and other countries that don’t even have a single elephant on their shores, we surely must review our ties with these parties.
The argument that selling ivory would fuel the misconception that there is a market for trade in the first place is a cheap shot. Not selling our stocks won’t discourage international criminal syndicates from pursuing our animals. What would discourage them is when they know that their actions won’t go unpunished. But we can’t punish them without resources.
2019-08-30 07:59:00 23 days ago