The government of Tanzania and the British High Commissioner on behalf of the UK NGO ‘Stop Ivory’ yesterday signed a Memorandum of understanding (MoU) to audit ivory stockpiles.
The signing was done by British High Commissioner Dianna Melrose and the Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Natural Resource and Tourism Dr Adelhelm James Meru and witnessed by the Minister for Natural Resource and Tourism Lazaro Nyalandu.
According to the MoU, a total of Uk’S GBP 10million ($15.5m) will be given to African countries to support the Elephant Protection Initiative in which Tanzania as a lead country will get a lion share.
Speaking after signing, Melrose said that a year ago, President Jakaya Kikwete took the lead in launching the Elephant Protection Initiative (EPI) at the London conference to end illegal wildlife trade which he intended with Nyalandu.
“We are providing funding for the independent audit of Tanzania’s Ivory stockpiles-due to begin two weeks from today. I congratulate the Tanzanian government in showing leadership on the elephant protection initiative, “said Melrose.
She said that the UK government is pleased to be working in partnership with the Tanzanian government, Stop Ivory and UNDP on this initiative to end the illegal wildlife trade.
“This stockpiles inventory is the first necessary step to put ivory beyond economic use. This is critical to the long term survival of Tanzania’s elephants, to safeguard tourism revenue and the livelihood of those who depend on the tourism industry,” she said.
She said that after the inventory, Stop Ivory looks forward to supporting Nyalandu’s team in drawing up Tanzania’s National
Elephant Action Plan-the next step in the EPI.
“It needs collective efforts to end the Ivory trade. A welcome development was China’s announcement of a one year ban on all imports of Ivory. We hope Tanzania will encourage other countries to follow its example and join the EPI,” she added.
For their part, Nyalandu and Meru thanked the UK and its partners for their commitment and determination to end the EPI.
Nyalandu said that the EPI is a home grown initiative that shows commitment by President Jakaya Kikwete to end the ivory trade.
He said that the initiative will open up to the African continent and the world at large to back up the efforts to end the illegal trade.
He said that African countries in this initiate such as Botswana, Chad, Ethiopia Gabon and Tanzania are meeting soon for implementation of the initiative.
For his part, Meru said that various wildlife products including ivory have been impounded. Upon conclusion of wildlife cases in courts, these wildlife products are safely stored in government stores.
The storage of ivory and other trophies follows National Laws and CITES resolutions’ he said.
“As you may be aware, illegal wildlife trade goes beyond country borders. In this regard, the government has continued to involve national and international stakeholders in combating this activity and safeguarding the impounded wildlife products including ivory.
Following this, the government of Tanzania participated in the London Conference on the illegal wildlife trade held in February 2014. The objective of the conference was to bring together International community’s efforts towards wildlife protection, said Dr Meru.
He said that during the London conference, President Kikwete, made a practical commitment and established Elephant Protection Initiative (“EPI”) – an initiative to protect African elephants – which was jointly proposed by the governments of Botswana, Chad, Ethiopia, Gabon and Tanzania (the “EPI Proposing Countries”.