Gaborone - Botswana and Zambia have agreed to adopt a common position on the restrictions of elephants and leopard products at the ongoing the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meeting.
The meeting which started from 17 August and it will end on 28 August is being held in Switzerland.
At the ongoing meeting, Zambia is seeking to have its elephants downlisted to Appendix II. This would allow commercial trade in registered raw ivory with approved trading partners.
Zambia joins Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe who are also proposing that ivory from elephants in the SADC region be traded.
On the other end of the scale, a number of countries including Kenya, Nigeria and Gabon are proposing that all elephants in Africa be listed as Appendix I, the highest form of protection available to CITES.
According to a communiqué signed by Botswana Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Shaw Kgathi and Zambia’s Ministry of Home Affairs, Stephen Kampyongo, following the meeting of Joint Commission on Defence and Security held in Zambia on 16 August, the two countries agreed to adopt a common position.
“The Commission resolved that Botswana and Zambia during the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Conference of Parities to be held in August 2019, present a common position on the restrictions of trade on leopards and elephants,” reads the communiqué.
Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe accuse CITES of acting as an “inhibitor and not an enabler of progress”.
The Southern African nations are calling for a number of amendments to certain controls by CITES. The four nations want ivory trade restrictions to be relaxed to allow for trade in hunting trophies for non-commercial purposes and trade in live animals to appropriate and acceptable destinations for Botswana and Zimbabwe and for conservation programmes for Namibia and South Africa.
They also propose that there should be trade in hides, trade in hair, and trade in leather goods for commercial or non-commercial purposes for Botswana, Namibia and South Africa and for non-commercial purposes for Zimbabwe.
The four nations also urge CITES to allow for trade in individually marked and certified incorporated in finished jewelry for non- commercial purposes for Namibia and ivory carvings for non-commercial purposes for Zimbabwe.
They are also calling for trade in registered raw ivory (for Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, whole tusks and pieces as long they are subjected to the following: only registered government-owned stocks, originating in the state (excluding seized ivory and ivory of unknown origin).
They also want to trade in ivory only with partners that have been verified by the CITES Secretariat, in consultation with the Standing Committee, to have sufficient national legislation and domestic trade controls to ensure that the imported ivory will not be re-exported and will be managed concerning domestic manufacturing and trade.
The countries further want trade in some of the goods not to be done before the Secretariat has verified the prospective importing countries and the registered government-owned stocks.
“The Conference of the Parties (COP) has repeatedly discounted the importance of the Southern African elephant population and its conservation needs against other regions in Africa,” the document reads.
It further states that the elephant populations of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe are an anomaly in CITES.
The four nations also informed CITES that it “should recognise that it has to operate within the overall international governance framework, which includes due recognition of the rights of local people to development and the right to make decisions over the resources that people depend on”.