The great ivory debate. (Conservation).The decision by Cites to allow three Southern African countries to sell off their ivory stockpiles has aroused a heated debate both in Africa and abroad with critics claiming this will reopen the door for poachers. TOM NEVIN gives both sides of the argument.
William Mabasa, South African wildlife spokesman is thrilled, "absolutely delighted". But, "it's a very sad day, not only for Kenya, but also for other African countries with elephants": laments Omar Bashir Omar Bashir can refer to:
It brought the Great Ivory Debate to a resolution of sorts - an uneasy victory for some and a bitter defeat for others. Although the verbal contest has been reduced from boil to simmer, the talking hasn't stopped, and the victory was hardly jumbo-sized. The sales are strictly one-off.
At issue was whether countries with elephant populations should be allowed to sell tusks harvested through culling culling
removal of inferior animals from a group of breeding stock. The removal is premature, i.e. before completion of its life span, disposal of an animal from a herd or other group. , natural death and those confiscated con·fis·cate
tr.v. con·fis·cat·ed, con·fis·cat·ing, con·fis·cates
1. To seize (private property) for the public treasury.
2. To seize by or as if by authority. See Synonyms at appropriate.
adj. from poachers and illegal sellers. Countries, especially those in Africa, accumulated massive stockpiles of tusks as they awaited the outcome of negotiations between wildlife conservation and animal rights groups on one side, and affected governments on the other.
Late last year, a key Cites panel rejected requests from Zambia and Zimbabwe to sell their ivory stocks, while giving South Africa, Namibia and Botswana the nod at the same time. South Africa can sell off 30 tons, Botswana 20 and Namibia 10. Zambia (17 tons) and Zimbabwe (10 tons) were excluded. South Africa justified its request by arguing that its elephant population is no longer under threat and that poaching poaching: see cooking. has been eliminated from its national parks This is a list of national parks ordered by nation. Africa
The Zimbabwe government was outraged and, through its newspaper, The Herald, accused South Africa and other SADC SADC Southern African Development Community
SADC State Agriculture Development Committee
SADC St Albans District Council (administrative authority for St Albans, Hertfordshire, UK)
SADC Sector Air Defense Commander states of abandoning it. Pam Yoko, South Africa s deputy environmental affairs director general, denied the charge. "We (the SADC countries) all spoke in favour of the Zimbabwe proposal, but the reality is that the Cites committee voted separately on each country."
Generally sparsely vegetated, Botswana is more susceptible to elephant overcrowding overcrowding
overcrowding of animal accommodation. Many countries now publish codes of practice which define what the appropriate volumetric allowances should be for each species of animal when they are housed indoors. Breaches of these codes is overcrowding. than most and yet, at 120,000, it has the biggest elephant population. This is twice the country's carrying capacity carrying capacity
the number of animal units that a farm or area will carry on a year round basis, including that needed for conservation of winter feed. Usually stated as dry cows or dry sheep equivalents per hectare. and the animals are sandwiched in the northern parts of the country where they have laid waste to vast areas of it.
Moemi Batshabang, assistant director for Management and Utilisation in Botswana's Wildlife and National Parks department, confirms that Botswana is prepared to comply with all the requirement by selling its ivory stockpile to a destination acceptable to the Cites secretariat. "The system has to be watertight so that they should not be contaminated contaminated,
v 1. made radioactive by the addition of small quantities of radioactive material.
2. made contaminated by adding infective or radiographic materials.
3. an infective surface or object. by any poached poach 1
tr.v. poached, poach·ing, poach·es
To cook in a boiling or simmering liquid: Poach the fish in wine. ivory," he says.
Botswana has also urged Cites to allow it to send some of its elephants to other acceptable countries. Late last year, Botswana translocated 300 herds of elephant to Angola as a start in rebuilding its northern neighbour's stocks, depleted de·plete
tr.v. de·plet·ed, de·plet·ing, de·pletes
To decrease the fullness of; use up or empty out.
[Latin d through poaching during its 30-year civil war. South Aftrica did the same in 2001.
To SELL OR NOT TO SELL?
There's a strong case to be made and much logic to be considered in southern Africa's contention that instead of destroying the ivory collected over the years, it should be sold and the millions generated used to further improve park security and wildlife wellbeing.
Of concern is what will actually happen to the millions of dollars raised in ivory sales. Will such income really be used, as the countries calling for ivory stockpile sales insist, to upgrade game-park security and enhance wild life conservation? African governments track record of applying dedicated funds to promised purposes is not good.
Dr George Hughes George Hughes may refer to:
the radiographic appearance of calcified periosteum stripped caudal to a femoral fracture. is exceptionally good in the bigger conservation agencies."
What must those countries not permitted to sell their ivory and horn do with the stockpiles?
"It remains stockpiled for as long as it takes," reports Hughes. "South Africa was forced to stockpile its ivory for 20 years. Some more extreme international agencies would rather see it destroyed, so there's never a temptation to turn it into money."
The position of southern African countries is simply that if the elephant is to be given large tracts of land in a region beset by poverty, Aids and landless land·less
Owning or having no land.
Adj. 1. indigenous people, it must pay its way.
"The opposition to this 'hard-nosed' position," says development conservationist Norman Reynolds Norman Reynolds is best known for being an Academy Award winning British art director and production designer for the original Star Wars trilogy. He was born in London, England, UK. , "comes from international, Western-based conservation agencies that seek to protect their continued flow of widow's subscriptions, and thus jobs, and the means to swan around the world first class, on emotional grounds."
He rejects the theory that the official, controlled sale of elephant tusks to buyers from abroad somehow opens up new activity by poachers. In his view the opposite is true: increase the supply of ivory and drive down its price.
"The southern African argument is soundly based on the economics of the trade," says Reynolds. "Given its ability to optimise herd sizes and all revenues to reward landowners, communities and other parties, the region can produce the most effective means to stop poaching: that is, to swell the supply of ivory and of ivory products. This, firstly, will turn locals into owners and protectors of elephants. Second, it will whittle away Verb 1. whittle away - cut away in small pieces
wear away, whittle down
damage - inflict damage upon; "The snow damaged the roof"; "She damaged the car when she hit the tree" the large margins the top and middlemen require before they engage locals to poach poach
damage caused to sodden pasture by the hooves of cattle and sheep. In clay soils and when the ground is sufficiently wet the damage caused by a heavy stocking rate of sheep may be very high. Said also of the take-off in front of a jump in an equitation course or a race. elephants."
Dr George strongly disagrees with this line of reasoning Noun 1. line of reasoning - a course of reasoning aimed at demonstrating a truth or falsehood; the methodical process of logical reasoning; "I can't follow your line of reasoning"
logical argument, argumentation, argument, line . "It's a fine product in very limited supply," he says, "and the price will stay reasonable. There's no romance attached to that. It's simple economics. We'll never be able to increase the supply to the extent that the price will come down. The market is just too big."
RAISING FUNDS WITHOUT SELLING IVORY
Meanwhile, an American charity has offered to buy South Africa's stockpile and burn it, evidence that Kenya's renowned wildlife crusader, Richard Leakey Noun 1. Richard Leakey - English paleontologist (son of Louis Leakey and Mary Leakey) who continued the work of his parents; he was appointed director of a wildlife preserve in Kenya but resigned under political pressure (born in 1944)
Leakey, Richard Erskine Leakey , could be right when he says countries don't have to sell their ivory in order to raise money for conservation causes. The former director of the Kenya Wildlife Service Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) was established in 1990. It manages the biodiversity of the country, protecting and conserving the flora and fauna.
KWS manages the National Parks and Reserves in Kenya. (KWS KWS Kenya Wildlife Service
KWS Kenny Wayne Shepherd (blues guitarist)
KWS Kugelberg-Welander Syndrome
KWS Keynesian Welfare State
KWS Kaltwassersatz (German)
KWS Knowledge Worker System ) and ex-President Arap Moi destroyed $3m worth of elephant tusks in a 1988 bonfire that made headlines around the world. The result was that Leakey raised some $300m for the KWS in the following three years, mainly through the goodwill inspired by the gesture.
"The Kenya experience shows us you can raise 10 times what the ivory is worth just because of the publicity," says wildlife filmmaker Gareth Pyne-Jones.
It's this attitude that has made Kenya one of the most vociferous opponents of ivory sales which, no matter how well intentioned and regulated will, in their opinion, continue to make elephants the victims of greed.
Asian countries with significant elephant populations, notably India and Thailand, agree and helped to collect more than 1.5m signatures for the International Fund for Animal Welfare condemning the sales. Kenya and India were co-sponsors of an unsuccessful proposal that would have removed African elephants from appendix II where there is restricted trade on live animals and their products - to appendix I, where trading is forbidden.
What's also worrying Cites is the bullish state of China's developing capital-based economy. The agency believes it's creating a huge demand and exacerbating the illegal trade in ivory. Some 17 tons of contraband tusks were seized around the world last year, a major destination being China. "There is a market in China that is enormous and growing for ivory products," reports Cites deputy general manager, Jim Armstrong Jim Armstrong may refer to:
SUSTAINABLE WILDLIFE POLICY
The head of South African National Parks (SANParks), Mavuso Msimang, disagrees that there's a correlation between ivory sales and a resurgence in illegal trade. "Even when the sale of ivory from African elephants was completely banned from 1989 to 1997, the illegal trade never came to an end," he points out. "It just comes into the spotlight at times like these."
Msimang insists that South Africa's proposal limited it to a strictly supervised one-off sale. "Monitoring of poaching and elephant management in South Africa is working well. We should not be punished for trying hard," he says.
Hughes contends that well organised and rational trade in wildlife products is where the solution should start. "I'm a born-again, sustainable-use person myself, and South Africa is an outstanding example of sustainable use in this relation to wildlife management. Our major mammals and other wildlife species are thriving in this country.
Tourism is the fastest growing sector in the southern African economy, and conservation plays a major part in it. The 'Peace Park' (African Business February 2003, p58) unification of three cross-border game reserves is testament to regional governments' commitment to sustainable tourism development. It's how to get there that has set animal rights groups against conservationists, and African governments against each other.
Make elephants and other animals pay their rent, insist African conservation departments - preserve them at any price, say the conservation greens. Who's right? Perhaps, as ever, the answer lies somewhere in the middle.
ELPHANT POACHING IN THE KRUGER NATIONAL PARK 1982 102 1984 29 1986 5 1988 8 1990 9 1992 28 1994 12 1996 12 1998 1 2000 0 Note: Table made from bar graph