CITES decision to cost SADC


Mpho Tebele, Southern Times

Date Published

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GABORONE: Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi has lashed out at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) for rejecting a proposal by some SADC member states to sell ivory their stock piles.

SADC countries lost their battle to have the elephant down listed from Appendix I to II so as to allow them to trade in ivory that is stockpiled in several countries across the region.

Masisi said this would not only undermine conservation efforts by the region but would also come at a great cost. 

The Botswana President this week used his State of the Nation Address in Parliament to pour out his frustrations to the international community about the manner in which countries with a sizeable number of elephants are treated by those which do not have those animals.

He said Botswana and other SADC member states participated in the CITES’ 18th Conference of Parties (COP18) in Geneva, Switzerland.

A proposal to trade in ivory jointly submitted by Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and other elephant range states whose populations are on CITES Appendix I was rejected by the COP18.

“The failure by the international community to recognise that elephant conservation and management comes at a great cost in terms of impacts on community livelihoods and protection of elephants from poaching has the potential to undermine the sterling conservation efforts by the Southern African region,” he said.  

“Botswana hosted the Kasane Elephant Summit and committed to working with Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area partner countries to identify sustainable solution to the challenges presented by our elephant population.”

He said Botswana acknowledges the importance of natural resources such as wildlife to the wellbeing and livelihoods of communities living in rural areas. “This is the reason why the community-based natural resource management  (CBNRM) programme has been revitalized for communities to improve their livelihoods, create job opportunities and diversify local economies, while sustainably managing natural resources,”  Masisi said.

To this end, he said, legislation was being drafted to provide a framework within which community trusts operate, while keeping regulatory requirements in check and also providing clarity on standards and accountability.

Some of the bottlenecks that had been impeding the growth of the then CBNRM programme, including moratoriums on export of dried fish and the moratorium on tourism licenses in the Okavango Delta area had been lifted in order to provide an opportunity for communities to invest in tourism enterprises which will lead to employment creation, increased income and investment in social projects within those communities.

On other issues, Masisi said following the decision to re-instate hunting in April 2019, his government was currently working on developing hunting guidelines to provide direction on hunting. Citizen hunting resumed in 2019 and it was anticipated that the same would be extended to community trust areas and concessions in April 2020.

In preparation for community hunting, quotas would be issued by December 2019 to allow for marketing ahead of the 2020 hunting season. “A major lesson learnt from the 2014 hunting moratorium is the unintended alienation of communities who felt that they were not benefitting from the natural resources around them,” said Masisi.

He said the lifting of the moratorium would mitigate the negative impact of the moratorium in 48 communities which include perceived alteration of communities from deriving benefits from natural resources around them, collapse of civil society organisations due to reduced incomes and reduced employment opportunities and income-generation activities.

It is expected that hunting will contribute significantly to reducing the human/wildlife conflict by creating viable and balanced populations.