This came at a press conference jointly hosted on Wednesday by Southern African countries representatives, during the 17th Conference of Parties (CoP 17) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Edna Molewa, South African Minister of Environmental Affairs, said Southern African countries are doing well in taking care of wildlife, the reason why they have the largest number of elephants in the world.
She said elephants and rhinos are close to the hearts of many South Africans. Molewa said Southern African countries know the sustainable way of preserving wildlife.
She said, “CITES should guard against just ban or closing domestic markets, it’s not the role of this body. They are responsible for international trade. We know what to do as responsible governments and we will continue to do that. We are not in crisis.”
Molewa said countries should deal with the issue of poaching elsewhere and not at CITES. She said it is not true that banning international trade will end poaching. She said, “Southern African countries have regulations that do not impart on the survival of our species.”
Pohamba Shifeta, Namibia Minister of Environment and Tourism, said the communities who are co-existing with elephants have made lots of sacrifices. He said some have lost their lives, crops and some have surrendered their land for wildlife and need to be incentivized.
Shifeta said these communities need recognition and be given some benefits so that they will continue living with these elephants.
He said, “People are talking about up listing these elephants, I have a problem. They have to look at those who are doing well. We have an overpopulation of elephants.”
Shifeta said they are willing to give these animals which are in abundance to other African countries if they have security and are able to take care of them. He said some countries and organization are exporting global problem of poaching to their countries.
The Zimbabwe Minister of Environment Oppah Muchinguri said they have been having a series of meetings as Southern African countries before CoP 17 and they came up with a common position.
Muchinguri said they have been explaining their position at the CoP 17 to some who have misconception about their position. She said, “It’s not easy to invest in conservation programs and address the needs of the community.”
The Zambia Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Arts, Stephen Mwansa also said other countries should get good practices from them. He said other countries should not come and prescribe to them what to do with their wildlife because they are managing it well.
On Tuesday, the Conference of the Parties (COP) rejected the proposal by mostly Southern African countries to set up a panel to consider allowing ivory sales to resume at some point in the future.
South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe also proposed for the unbanning of international trade in ivory at CoP 17. Namibia has also failed to remove the annotation which would allow them to sell ivory.