Legislators back state’s call for global ivory ban (Kenya)


Gilbert Koech, The Star

Date Published

Two parliamentary committees yesterday endorsed the government’s call for a total ivory ban ahead of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Kenya wants domestic ivory markets closed, ivory stockpile management, restriction of trade in live elephants, among other measures.

The National Assembly and Senate committees on land and natural resources met at the Panafric hotel. Members said Kenya’s proposals come at the right time, when elephants are facing extinction.

The proposal by Kenya to list African elephants in CITES Appendix I has generated a heated debate among several African countries opposed to it. The European Union, in a document on July 1, opposed the proposals to protect elephants, causing a major spat with NGOs.

Under the proposal, all African elephant populations and their range states will be unified under Appendix I, ending split-listing. Elephant populations in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe are in Appendix II, meaning the countries can trade in ivory with permission from CITES.

But Kenya is strongly opposed to allowing them a leeway to trade in ivory, arguing that African elephants are shared by more than one country and putting them under Appendix I will give them maximum protection. The EU is the biggest voting bloc in CITES, with 28 members, but the government believes that the bloc will not take a single position.

The 17th CITES meeting will be held from September 24 to October 5 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Kenya has submitted 14 proposals on the African elephant, African pangolins, snakes species endemic to Kenya, the Thresher shark, chameleon species, plant species and others on measures to combat illegal wildlife trafficking.

The tree species Kenya is fighting to protect include rosewood and sandalwood. Cyber crime will also be targeted, as some countries use the platform to buy endangered species. More than 180 proposals will be discussed at the meeting, bringing together 182 states party to the convention.

The chairperson of the National Assembly Committee on Environment, Amina Abdallah, cautioned members of the delegation to South Africa against going a divided house. Environment CS Judi Wakhungu said all is set for the meeting.