By Judith Sibanda
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has given assurances that the proceeds from the sale of the ivory stockpile will be channelled towards conservation efforts.
Mnangagwa appealed to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Wildlife Species (Cities) during the just ended United Nations –Africa Union wildlife summit in Victoria Falls to lift a ban on ivory trade citing that the country was sitting on US$ 600 million worth ivory and rhino horns.
The president also allayed fears that the funds will be diverted to other sectors of the economy.
Mnangagwa said the calls for the lifting of the ban were justified citing that due to climate change, wild animals were dying due to dehydration and they needed to be resourced.
“We are going to continue to have these products but we are currently sitting on 84 000 (elephants) against a carrying capacity of 54 000,” he said.
“We are maintaining our national parks without that money (US$600 million), and people come from your countries (Europe) to see our wildlife without that money and you are now worried that if we sell our stocks of ivory and rhino horns the money will go elsewhere.
“Where is the money coming from which we are using now? This only enhances our capacity to conserve wildlife. We need more rangers against poachers and with climate change, we need water points and they also need health care and all those resources must come from somewhere. In my view that US$ 600 million will last us for 20 years at the rate we are spending money.”
He said Cities needed to be objective whilst a sound argument is put in place by wildlife conservation countries to donate and sell among one another.
“Some of our brother countries have exhausted their wildlife and we are willing to sell and, in some cases, to donate these animals so that they can also grow the population of wildlife and we believe Cities should allow us to do those things without hindrance.
“For instance, among other countries, Angola had wildlife problems because of the war and there are lot of landmines in that country and because of that, they moved south so we are now cooperating with Angola to raise funds and we will give Angola elephants, lions, giraffes, buffalos and so on so that we decongest our own areas.”
The United Nations –Africa Union wildlife summit was also attended by presidents from Botswana, Zambia and Angola and various ministers from various countries and conservationists.