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Zimbabwe may withdraw from CITES to sell $300m of ivory

Country has a stockpile of tusks and reportedly needs the revenue.

Zimbabwe may consider withdrawing from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species because the organisation won’t allow it to sell its ivory stockpile.

The southern African nation with the world second-largest population of elephants has a stockpile of tusks worth an estimated $300 million and needs the revenue, Fulton Mangwanya, director-general of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, told lawmakers in the capital, Harare on Monday.

While CITES has banned international ivory sales to curb poaching, frustration is growing over the fact that “other countries are prescribing how we should handle our animals,” Mangwanya told a parliamentary committee on environment and tourism. Withdrawing from CITES would have the support of neighbors Botswana, Zambia and Namibia, which all have large elephant populations of their own, he said.

In recent years, Zimbabwe has raised money for conservation by selling elephants to China. The size of the population, estimated at 84,000, is twice what can be supported by available food and land, according to the government. Botswana last month lifted a hunting ban on wildlife because it says it has too many elephants, which destroy crops and sometimes kill people.

The last once-off commercial sale of stockpiles of elephant ivory from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe that CITES allowed was completed in 2009. Most of the tusks went to China and Japan.

“Countries like Japan are supporting us, China is dilly-dallying, I’m not quite sure why, but they are the ones that want our ivory,” Mangwanya said.

© 2019 Bloomberg L.P

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Maybe CITES can buy the ivory and then burn it themselves.

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