Namibia has a big stockpile of ivory which it is allowed to trade domestically, and the country is ready. The minister of environment and tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, says Namibia will soon be ready to start trading ivory domestically.
This follows the recent Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) conference where Namibia proposed a removal of an annotation linked to its elephant population, which is listed in Appendix II as well as a decision-making mechanism for future ivory trade.
Neither of these proposals was adopted. However, a number of African countries also proposed a complete closure of domestic ivory markets globally, which was not accepted, and it was decided that the closure of markets should rather be linked to illegal trade and poaching.
The ministry yesterday confirmed that Namibia currently has a stockpile of sixty tons of ivory that was worth N$120 million based on auction prices of 2008. Shifeta said it was agreed at CITES that it is a county’s own affair whether it wants to trade domestically in ivory. “Namibia is not yet trading, but we are ready to open.” According to him, Namibia will prepare to start domestic trade in ivory within the next year. He said all ivory products will be branded and they will work together with communities to counter illegal trade. He said there is still a moratorium on commercial ivory trade until 2017 and Namibia will respect that.
“There are perceptions that if we open up commercial trade now that it will increase poaching, but I believe it has not been scientifically proven and criminals will do what they want.” The director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Daniel Ashe, who visited Namibia this week, said the world is not yet ready for commercial ivory trade. Ashe praised Namibia’s conservation efforts and said Namibia is using its resources sustainably and these efforts should be supported.
Ashe visited Namibia following the CITES meeting that was held in South Africa and said he had the opportunity to spend some time in the Etosha National Park, visit with a professional hunter, visit the Save the Rhino Trust and some conservancies. He said this was an opportune time to see what work they are doing and to learn from their conservation methods and also see the anti-poaching progress in Namibia.
“We are not opposed to the trade in ivory, but it is not the right time for commercial trade in ivory and rhino horn,” said Ashe. He said although Namibia and the United States may disagree on trade in ivory, they agree that communities must be developed and that American hunters and tourists must come to Namibia to support the development while the poaching crisis must also be addressed. He said once this is done, ivory trade can be opened up in the future.
His visit to Namibia follows barely a year after the U.S. agency gave two American hunters the green light to import black rhino trophies from Namibia into the United States. One of them was for the controversial Texas hunter Corey Knowlton, who in 2014 submitted the winning
US $350,000 bid for a permit at a Dallas auction to kill a black rhino in Namibia, which sparked outrage internationally.
The second trophy request was from Michael Luzich, a Las Vegas investor and hunter who shot a rhino last year after a purchasing a permit for US $200,000 from Namibian officials. Luzich shot a rhino bull after paying for it in 2013.