Namibian ivory considered for saleBy: CATHERINE SASMAN
NAMIBIA’s ivory stockpile of over 30 000 kg will not end up on a bonfire, as was the case with Gabon’s elephant tusks and worked ivory more than a week ago. At the 2010 ivory prices in China, the stockpile is worth more than N$200 million. Namibia auctioned seven tons of ivory tusks to buyers from Japan and China in 2008 at a cost of N$13 million.
The Ministry of Environment and Tourism’s undersecretary, Simeon Negumbo, said Namibia plans to sell the ivory within the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) framework.
Negumbo said the location of the ivory stockpile cannot be revealed for security reasons.
Without providing any statistics, Negumbo said Namibia has not experienced a significant increase in poaching since 2002.
The sources of the Namibian stockpile are natural mortalities and breakages, management practices and seizures. A CITES report that came out in late June showed that illegal killings of elephants had increased dramatically since 1989. In 2011, 1 408 new elephant carcasses were collected in 37 different locations in Africa.
The findings of the CITES report will be discussed at the 62nd meeting of the CITES standing committee in Geneva, Switzerland, from July 23 to 27.
CITES secretary general John Scanlon said while collective efforts across elephant range, transit and consumer states should be made to reverse the trend, steps should not just result in seizures, but also in prosecution, convictions and strong penalties to stop the flow of contraband ivory.
“The whole enforcement chain must work together,” Scanlon said.
According to the report, the key driver of the illegal poaching of elephants is the demand for illegal ivory.
The most important transit points for illegal ivory are China, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. New trade routes are also said to be developing through Cambodia and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
China is viewed as the main destination for the escalating numbers of illegal ivory trade from Africa. The CITES report stated that China allows internal ivory trade under a control system previously vetted through a CITES process; the ongoing flow of illegal ivory to China suggests that such ivory moves into the legal ivory trade.
The report shows that the price paid in China by carvers and ivory processors for illegal raw ivory doubled from around US$150 to US$350 per kg between 2002 and 2004.
Between 2004 and 2010, the price has further gone up to about US$750 per kg.
Illegal trade in ivory is thus becoming a very serious threat to elephant populations in particularly central Africa.