Windhoek – Namibia’s Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta has reiterated calls for relaxation of restrictive policies enforced by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which he says are impeding Southern African countries from sustainably managing their natural and wildlife resources.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora is an international agreement between governments, which – among other things – banned the ivory trade as a means of protecting elephants.
Namibia is sitting on a stockpile of ivory worth more than US$67 million, and like other countries in Southern Africa is keen to sell this to raise money to support its conservation programmes.
Namibia is part of a lobby that includes, Angola, Botswana, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe that wants controlled trade of ivory.
The countries are home to the largest herds of free roaming elephants in the world.
Minister Shifeta said, “The CITES policies and imposed restrictions interferingly work against Namibia and several other Southern African countries’ long-term strategic plans for wildlife management, and as an active attendee, we observed that the steering committees failed to understand the success of the country’s world-renowned conservation efforts and continuously fail to do so.”
The minister said recent CITES level engagements had yielded negative results for conservationists and governments in Southern Africa.
“No consideration was given to countries who confidently proposed their successful wildlife management plans. There are countries that hold views that are not based on scientific theories, but rather politicise the whole matter. As a SADC region that holds the largest population of rhino species, our tolerance is being severely tested as our conservation programmes are being undermined by CITES, on the influence of some animal rights groups,” he added.