The Cites Standing Committee, which oversees the implementation of Cites, the convention on the international trade in endangered species of flora and fauna, between the major conferences, has given the go-ahead on July 16, 2008 to the one-off sale of ivory that was agreed in principle more than a year ago.
Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe are now authorised to make a single sale of a total of 108 tons of government-owned ivory. The following quantities of raw ivory have been approved: Botswana: 43,682.91 kg, Namibia: 9,209.68 kg, South Africa: 51,121.8 kg, and Zimbabwe: 3,755.55 kg. The Committee also agreed to designate China as an importing country. Japan had already been allowed to import ivory in 2006. Both countries stated that they would closely monitor their domestic markets.
South Africa has today welcomed the decision and sa way , will send a delegation to both China and Japan shortly, to assess their enforcement capacity and also to look at their compliance with Cites regulations. Mava Scott, spokesperson for the department of environmental affairs and tourism says the visit by the delegation is a step to satisfy the South African government about the integrity of these accredited buyers’ systems as it relates to the transaction.
“Thereafter, we will deliberate on the approach for the method of sale of the ivory, as the accreditation of China as a purchaser will trigger dynamic market forces which would not have been possible with Japan alone. The bargaining is likely to be beneficial to South Africa,” he said. All the proceeds of the sale are to be used exclusively for elephant conservation and local communities living side-by-side with elephants.
From Cites side, secretary-general of the Convention, Mr Willem Wijnstekers, said “The Secretariat will closely supervise this sale and evaluate its impact on elephant population levels throughout Africa. We will continue monitoring the Chinese and Japanese domestic trade controls to ensure that unscrupulous traders do not take this opportunity to launder ivory from illegal origin.” Cites banned the international commercial ivory trade in 1989.
In 1997, recognizing that some southern African elephant populations were healthy and well managed, it permitted Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe to make a one-time sale of ivory to Japan totalling 50 tons. This sale took place in 1999 and raised some USD 5 million for elephant conservation.