The Environment and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta has rubbished international reports that Namibia and Zimbabwe failed on Monday to convince member countries of the UN’s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) that they should be allowed to export ivory.
Shifeta told New Era yesterday from South Africa that Namibia cannot come up with a proposal to export ivory because the 10-year moratorium on trade in ivory will only be lifted by 2017.
“This is complete distortion. Some journalists are really ignorant. There was no proposal requesting to export ivory. There is a moratorium by CITES from 2007, which will end next year (2017). It’s only next year that we can request the sale of ivory. It (the issue) is only going to be opened after the 10-year moratorium ends next year. If they (journalists) could have followed and done research, they could have known. Once it’s automatically opened by 2017 then we can prepare proposals if we want to sell ivory,” he said.
He added: “There is no possibility that we could have made a proposal to sell ivory at this point in time if there is a moratorium for 10 years. We can trade in elephant products now, we can even trade in live elephants, except ivory until the moratorium is lifted.”
According to him, Namibia’s proposals were “tactically crafted to counter proposals such as the closure of domestic ivory markets, transfer of elephant population from Appendix II to Appendix I, ban on trophy hunting, and transferring lions to Appendix I.
“All our counter proposals succeeded to provide the adoption of these. Namibia can still trade in elephant products, even live elephants,” Shifeta said.
Appendix I lists species that are the most endangered among CITES-listed animals and plants.
They are threatened with extinction and CITES prohibits international trade in specimens of these species, except when the purpose of the import is not commercial, for instance for scientific research, which covers elephants.
“What we wanted is the restriction to be removed. Even if the restriction is removed, or not, we can still trade. But what we wanted is that we don’t have to always go to CITES and request. It’s not really a problem that it was rejected, because it’s not a priority for us. The other proposal is the one on the decision-making mechanism (DMM) for authorising trade in ivory. We wanted to end this one too. For us we did a tactical counter proposal. Countries like Botswana and Kenya were not happy to put elephant in Appendix 1 and they wanted it opened in the plenary,” he said.
Hence, he said, such a proposal was overwhelmingly rejected by 73 to 27.
“The good thing is that we have won everything. We are happy we won that elephants and lions can still remain in Appendix II. We also managed to prevent trophy hunting from being banned and won to prevent the general closure on the domestic market. The good thing is also that we supported that our pangolin be lifted in Appendix I,” he noted.
According to Appendix 1, in exceptional cases trade may take place provided it is authorised by the granting of both an import permit and an export permit (or re-export certificate).
Appendix II lists species that are not necessarily now threatened with extinction but that may become so unless trade is closely controlled. It also includes so-called “look-alike species”, i.e. species whose specimens in trade look like those of species listed for conservation reasons.
International trade in specimens of Appendix II species may be authorised by the granting of an export permit or re-export certificate. No import permit is necessary for these species under CITES (although a permit is needed in some countries that have taken stricter measures than CITES requires). Permits or certificates should only be granted if the relevant authorities are satisfied that certain conditions are met, above all that trade will not be detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild.