CITES CoP 17

 

ZIMBABWE’S POSITION ON THE PROPOSAL TO TRANSFER THE AFRICAN ELEPHANT POPULATIONS OF BOTSWANA, NAMIBIA, SOUTH AFRICA AND ZIMBABWE FROM APPENDIX II TO APPENDIX I

Background

Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Kenya, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sri Lanka and Uganda have submitted a proposal to include all populations of Loxodonta africana (African Elephant) in Appendix I through the transfer from Appendix II of the populations of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. This proposal will be considered at the 17thCoP in South Africa. If this sails through, the move will have serious conservation, economic and social implications for Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe position

Zimbabwe outrightly objects to this proposal.

Reasons for objecting to the proposal

  • Zimbabwe believes that natural resources (elephants and other animals)are for people (Zimbabweans) and should benefit its people (its citizens).
  • Zimbabwe has submitted a proposal to amend the annotations that are currently affecting and hindering the trade in ivory thereby depriving the Zimbabwean population of benefits from this God given natural resource.
  • The proposal is in contravention of the Convention of Biological Diversity and the Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines for the Sustainable use of Biodiversity which confirm the right and the need for the sustainable use of natural resources.
  • The protectionist idealism is contrary to economic development in Zimbabwe. The growth of the tourism economy in Zimbabwe is hinged upon the sustainable utilisation of the resources found within the country.
  • The removal of the sustainable utilisation incentive, through uplisting to Appendix I, is a monumental threat to conservation. The community livelihood interests will be threatened, which will lead to the conversion of landuse to other types of economic landuses such as cropping, mining etc. This will reduce the habitat available for the elephants and threaten the survival of the species in those areas.
  • The uplisting of the African elephant does not guarantee an increase in populations - countries in east, central and West Africa are a classical example.
  • There is an overpopulation of elephants in Zimbabwe and the ecosystem, in the major elephant range areas, is already under pressure from the high numbers. This generally tends to compromise the survival of other species of plants and animals.
  • Uplisting of species into Appendix I has failed to save populations of major wildlife species such as Rhino.

Conclusion

  • Zimbabwe would oppose any moves that seek to prescribe an umbrella approach to the management of African elephants particularly to range states that have proven to manage thriving elephant populations through successful conservation practices.
  • The proposed move by the proponents essentially infringes upon Zimbabwe’s sovereignty to make decisions over its wildlife resources, for the benefit of its economy and its citizens without interference.
  • Zimbabwe subscribes to the principle of sustainable utilization of its wildlife resources including that of the elephants and this practice has so far played a critical role in the social and economic betterment of its citizens.
  • CITES parties should adopt a separate approval process where countries such as Zimbabwe, with every growing populations should remain in Appendix II without annotations while countries with depleting elephant populations such as Kenya and others should be uplifted to Appendix 1 to enable their populations grow.
  • Zimbabwe believes CITES parties should NOT adopt “a one size fits all” approach and each case should be dealt with its own merits.
  • Zimbabwe’s elephant population does qualify for uplisting under the CITES criteria for listing a species in Appendix I.
  • The proposal to uplist African elephants of the stated range states to Appendix I is in its entirety is not a true reflection of the elephant situation in Africa as there are countries in Southern Africa battling with large elephant populations and overabundance in the protected areas.

 


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