By Anne Chaon
A booming black market in African ivory linked to Asian crime syndicates may scupper efforts by Zambia and Tanzania to hold a one-off sale of tusks, experts and delegates at a UN wildlife trade meeting say.
At its last gathering in 2007, the UN-backed Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) voted a nine-year moratorium on exports of African ivory.
The ban went into effect in 2008, after South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe carried out a one-time sale to Japan and China of stockpiled ivory.
But Zambia and Tanzania are now asking the 175-nation body, meeting in the Qatari capital Doha until March 25, for permission to unload their own ivory stocks, also taken legally from animals that died naturally or were culled.
The two countries require a two-thirds majority for their bids to be approved.
A coalition of 23 elephant-range nations not only opposes the measure, but wants to extend the ban on ivory sales to 20 years.
“The 2007 moratorium was meant to ensure there would be no markets [for ivory\ in neighbouring countries. More....