Ivory trade to resume

Ivory trade to resume beginning March 1998, 20 metric tonnes of raw ivory will change hands between Zimbabwe and Japan. This is the first time in ten years that the trade will be legal, endorsed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species ( cites ), the international body which implemented a ban on ivory trade in 1989. Proceeds of the sale are expected to benefit 1.2 million indigenous farmers, from whose community land the ivory has been derived. The decision to give Zimbabwe the go-ahead was taken by the standing committee of cites on February 11, 1999. It has also allowed Namibia to export 13.8 tonnes of ivory to Japan in a matter of weeks. Botswana will be allowed to do it subject to a new re-verification, which will take place in the next few weeks. But the chairperson of the standing committee will decide this on his own, without having to wait for a new standing committee.

"Our people are looking to determine how best to use these proceeds to enhance their living situation,' said Steve Kasere, director of the Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources ( campfire ) Association of Zimbabwe. "At a time when the local economy is in a shambles and the inflation rate is running above 40 per cent, Zimbabwean department of natural parks and wildlife management ( dnpwm ) views this cash injection as a blessing for depressed rural communities,' Kasere pointed out.

Part of the money will also supplement a us $70-million World Bank loan to the dnpwm for conservation efforts, such as water supply systems, aircraft for aerial surveillance, anti-poaching activities, and monitoring wildlife populations and habitats.

The committee agreed on a mechanism to halt trade and possibly re-list those elephant populations currently included in Appendix II (where regulated commercial trade is allowed) to Appendix I (where no commercial trade is allowed) if there is evidence of increased poaching or illegal trade.

Three southern African nations

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