http://www.namibiansun.com/environment/ ... rged.93503‘Controlled’ ivory trade urged
Submitted by NamibianSun on Mon, 2016-05-09 01:00
Namibia is arguing that the controlled trade in ivory and other elephant specimens, in addition to other direct and indirect forms of the economic use of these animals, is in the best interest of the local elephant population.
The country has submitted its proposal for new measures and policies on the trade of ivory, for consideration at a global wildlife conference to be held South Africa later this year, in which it says that the country’s ivory stockpile is growing on average by 4.5% per year.
The proposal, which has just been handed in by Namibia, aims to amend the listing of the Namibian African elephants as being subject to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) trade controls.
The document states that the controlled trade of ivory will help to ensure continued access to land outside protected areas, by providing strong incentives to communities to protect elephants and their habitat.
By contrast, law-enforcement alone, without associated incentives, does not provide long-term security from displacement by other forms of land use, Namibia says in its proposal.
The proposal will be decided upon at the triennial meeting of the 182 Parties to CITES (181 countries and the European Union), which will be held from 24 September to 5 October 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The document indicates that the country’s ivory stocks stands at 8 312 whole elephant tusks and 2 129 ivory pieces, with a total weight of 58 877kg.
The ivory stocks include tusks and ivory pieces recovered from natural mortalities, seizures and also unknown recoveries.
According to figures of ivory seizures in Namibia since 1990, there have been 742 seizures in the country, in which 4 067 elephant tusks have been seized.
The document argues that the growing ivory stocks represent major management, administrative and security problems.
It says that while Namibia continues to exercise strict control over all ivory stocks, it remains concerned over the high costs and security implications of holding large ivory stocks.
“Ivory continues to accumulate, primarily through natural mortalities. The climate in Namibia is dry, making it virtually impossible to maintain ivory quality, without incurring huge expenditures.”
According to the document, Namibia’s elephant population currently stands at more than 22 000. However, the country sees the absence of trade as the greatest threat to the elephant population.
According to the document, this stems from the fact that elephants have in the past had no or very little direct value to rural communities, where so many elephants use land that people also depend on for farming.
“Elephants will only survive in the long-term if they are more valuable to people than their damage to alternative forms of land use, such as subsistence farming.”
The document says that the controlled ivory trade will directly benefit the survival of the species as all revenue will be reinvested in elephant conservation in Namibia, including rural community conservation programmes, and that the monitoring of the impact of trade will be supported.
Furthermore, it was pointed out that if communities are not able to benefit from the presence of elephants, through sustainable utilisation and through trade in ivory recovered from natural mortalities, elephants outside protected areas in Namibia face a serious long-term threat of displacement, through progressive range conversion to agriculture.
The document stresses that no elephants have been or will be killed specifically to obtain ivory or other products for trade. Ivory is recovered from all recorded natural mortalities, as well as elephants destroyed as problem animals, and strict national legislation makes it obligatory for the public to hand in any ivory found.
The document also indicates that the incidence of illegal killing of elephants in Namibia is biologically insignificant.
It further states that incidents of illegal hunting of elephants in Namibia include cases of illegal shooting before or after elephants have damaged or have threatened to damage crops and farms, and where no attempt is made to collect the ivory.
It is nevertheless very difficult to separate illegal hunting, with the intent to collect ivory, from all hunting incidents, and illegal hunting is notoriously difficult to monitor.
Namibia has, however, contributed fully to the system to monitor the illegal trade in ivory and the illegal hunting of elephants, the document says.
A total of 78 elephants were illegally killed in 2012, 38 elephants were killed in 2013 and 78 in 2014.
Last year, 49 elephants were killed, and up to April this year, nine elephants have been killed.