By Prince Mushawevato
Zimbabwe’s ivory stockpile has risen by more than 10 tonnes in the past 12 months and Government is imploring the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) to be allowed to sell part of it. Statistics from the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority show that over the past year the stockpile - from ivory confiscated from poachers, including animals killed for population control and those that have died of natural causes, grew from 50 tonnes to 62 tonnes.
Indications are that the Parks Authority collects an average of one tonne per month. Calculated on the local wholesale price, the current stockpile is valued at close to US$15,5 million.
Parks Authority director-general Mr Edison Chidziya said in an interview last week the burgeoning stockpile has come at a heavy cost for the financially hamstrung authority as it is costing thousands of dollars every month in maintenance and security.
“We presently estimate the stockpile to be around 60 000 kilogrammes. The figure is way above our normal holding capacity. Practically, we have run out of storage space. And this is the reason why Zimbabwe and like-minded countries have been lobbying for a temporary waiver of the moratorium,” he said.
Government’s proposals for special permission to sell its ivory before the expiry of the moratorium have not been successful. A nine-year moratorium was sanctioned by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in 2007 in a bid to curb illegal trade in ivory, which threatened both elephants and rhinoceros with extinction.
Mr Chidziya said the rate at which the stockpile was increasing meant that new facilities had to be created, but the idea was not feasible.
“At this rate we would need to build a new storage facility. However, we do not have resources to put up such a structure given the financial position we are in. Our resources are presently divided towards the overall parks operations that include patrols, storage and maintenance of the stockpile,” he explained. More....