Kenya out to persuade world to impose total ban on ivory
As the eyes of wildlife conservation experts turn to Johannesburg, South Africa for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), Kenya is looking to push for total ban of ivory and Rhino horns trade.
So far about half of African countries are lobbying for tighter measures to protect dwindling elephant and rhino populations.
Kenya is likely to lock horns with Namibia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Swaziland that want to cash in on their stockpiles.
Kenya which backs a complete ban on the trade is likely to lock horns with Southern Africa nations led by Swaziland that are keen on cashing on their stockpiles.
Already, Kenya sent a strong message to the world early this year in April when it torched 105 tonnes of elephant ivory and 1.35 tonnes of rhino horns in a move calculated to deter poaching.
At CITES convention that convenes from Saturday, Kenya will put a spirited opposition to the countries seeking resumption of trade in ivory and Rhino group.
“Kenya and other countries hard-hit by poaching argue that unfreezing trade in game trophies from endangered species will stimulate the international demand for tusks and horns and offer the perfect incentive for poachers,” said Paul Udoto, Kenya Wildlife Service Spokesman.
Prompted by dwindling rhino population that reduced twenty-fold in a quarter of a century, Kenya has been at the forefront of the zero-tolerance advocacy on ivory and horn trade.
Rhino population in Kenya now stands at just about 1,000 having reduced from 20,000 in the 1990s, while it is estimated that about 20,000 elephants are slaughter every year for their ivory.
“Tsavo East National Park is especially badly hit. In 2011, it had 58 rhinos and now only 13 roam the wild,” said John Wambua, senior warden Tsavo East.
World Wildlife Fund’s Kenya chief executive officer Mohamed Awer told Citizen Digital that Sh10 million project started at the Tsavo East National Park hopes to protect the remaining rhino population from poachers, with 12 more relocated and placed under a fenced 10,000 square km zone under 24-hour surveillance.
It is these kinds of efforts that Kenya hopes to refer to at the CITES meeting to convince the world that the future of endangered species lies not with controlled trade but a blanket ban on ivory trade.
However, the strictly enforced ban on poaching has seen many countries in southern Africa stockpile ivory and horns for more than 24 years and now believe they fetch a tidy sum in the international market.
The southern African countries contend the lifting of the ban would help minimize the human-wildlife conflict with reduced populations while scientists claim the damage done by elephants is exaggerated and that they are “crucial for health ecosystems” according to South Africa’s National Parks ecologist Sam Ferreira who spoke to Sky News.
Ivory is much coveted in Asia and several countries including Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa are allowed to sell to China and Japan.
It will be a tall order for Kenya to persuade the world of the importance of a total ban on the threatened species.
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