Zim rejects proposed CITES regulations


Tendai Mugabe, The Herald

Date Published

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Zimbabwe has rejected proposals submitted to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species’ 17th Conference of Parties seeking to up-list the population of elephants and lions into Appendix 1 of endangered species.

Appendix 1 includes species threatened with extinction and if the proposals succeeded, Zimbabwe will be banned from international hunting and trading of elephants and lions.

Currently, elephants and lions are in Appendix II where hunting and trading is allowed under CITES regulations.

Cop17, which will be attended by several Heads of State and Government will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in September.

The proposals which are supported by the European Union and some African countries, pose a huge threat to Zimbabwe as the country has the second largest population of elephants in the world, standing at 84 000.

Launching Zimbabwe’s roadmap to the CITES Cop17 in Harare yesterday, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe had set aside 13 percent of its total surface area as wildlife protected areas.

He said it was mindboggling that some people who do not have land for wildlife conservation in their countries were giving instructions on “how we should look after our animals”.

“Zimbabwe, therefore, objects to proposals that were submitted to CITES Cop17 to restrict all trophy imports into some countries whether through up-listing of elephants, lions and other species to CITES Appendix 1 which results in the prohibition of international commercial trade in these species or through meting out stricter domestic measures by importing countries,” said VP Mnangagwa.

“The notion that trophy hunting leads to species extinction is not based on any scientific evidence.

“Zimbabwe’s current healthy wildlife populations can be attributed to its robust sustainable wildlife utilisation programmes involving both consumptive and non consumptive uses, which ensure proceeds from wildlife are ploughed back into conservation.

“I am drawing your attention to CITES because the global understanding of wildlife conservation is being complicated by the new instituitionalism which looks at institutions as rules, not as organisations.

“In this regard, I am making specific reference to CITES which, after every two or three years, sits down to create new rules and invariably some of them to restrict if not prohibit trade in wildlife products and to make implementation of CITES resolutions and decisions which are unbearable, especially to developing countries like Zimbabwe.”

VP Mnangagwa said those advocating for such trade should provide resources to look after wildlife and communities around wildlife areas.

He said Zimbabwean communities were drawing huge benefits from selling wildlife in areas such as Mbire, Hurungwe and Hwange.

VP Mnangagwa said the quantities of hunting trophies exported by Zimbabwe were insignificant in relation to the total populations.

“The US and the EU take upon themselves to do non detrimental findings on behalf of a range of states, making assumptions that they know better how developing countries should manage their resources.

“The main motivation of these countries is underpinned by the fundamental belief that wildlife trade and conservation are mutual.”

Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said: “Our country recognises wildlife as an integral natural resource of great ecological and economic importance that needs to be managed. Over the years, wildlife trade has contributed significantly to economy of Zimbabwe as CITES provides an opportunity to trade with other parties.

“The proposed restrictions on trophy imports are not only a loss in the sovereignty of rights over resources for bio diversity rich countries such as Zimbabwe.

“The wildlife sector is now a highly politicised global agenda aimed at denying countries with well managed wildlife populations, socio-economic development and empowerment opportunities including access to God-given natural resources that they are endowed with.”

The launch was attended by people who live in areas with high populations of wildlife, who gave touching testimonies of how they have conflicts with wild animals.

Some of them had lost their limbs and livestock to wild animals.

Senior Government officials and stakeholders in the wildlife sector were also present.