She said the ban on ivory trade is detrimental to the country’s progress as the industry has potential to promote infrastructural development and employment creation in the various communities hosting the resources.
“We have a problem in enjoying the proceeds from our animals as Zimbabwe is a member of CITES. What happens is they identify endangered species in every country. Then there are countries in Africa such as Botswana and Kenya joining forces with countries like Chad, countries which no longer have any animals, to push for a ban in ivory trade in Zimbabwe,” Muchinguri-Kashiri.
“We fought a good fight at CITES because they actually wanted us to burn the abundant elephant tusks we have in store but we refused. To us the value of those tusks is very high; therefore we shall wait until an opportune time to sell.”
She was responding to a question raised by Joseph Mapiki— Shamva South MP in Parliament this Wednesday.
Zimbabwe has approximately 70 tonnes in unsold elephant tusks.
Kenya recently made headlines after it announced its decision to torch 120 000 in confiscated elephant tusks to show that is has zero tolerance for elephant poaching and ivory trade.
Zimbabwe has not been spared of poaching but the minister insists the country’s elephant population remains too high causing significant human and wildlife conflict. She argues the conservative sale of live beasts and tusks can help reduce the conflict while promoting development.
“But what we are only allowed to do is to make souvenirs also called personal artifacts, earrings, bangles but we still can’t sell those because we still need permits. A tourist should come with a permit from country of origin to buy just a pair of earrings.
“In Zimbabwe again the tourist has to apply for another permit from the National Parks. The process is so cumbersome and almost a ban for Zimbabwe,” she said.
According to the minister, CITES allows countries to make reservations within 90 days after which other countries who want to buy can also make a similar reservation to push for trade. She said her ministry was still weighing options for the best way forward.
Recently, 22 elephants were found after cyanide poisoning while government sold baby elephants to China—a development which made international headlines.
China recently stopped ivory trade in its domestic market, Muchinguri-Kashiri said.