By Finnigan Wa Simbeye
Tanzania is among eight member countries of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which have been placed on the list of worst offenders in ivory trade likely to face trade restrictions.
World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) Policy Analyst for International Wildlife Trade, Dr Colman O Criodain told the 'Sunday News' last week that Tanzania, alongside Kenya and Uganda, have been given a grace period, during which to implement time-bound plans to curb ivory trade."In Tanzania's case, the basis of concern is her role as a transit country for large-scale illegal ivory shipments.
There is evidence that the consignments either originated in or passed through Tanzania. Only a tiny fraction of the seizures were made within the country.
This points to a failure to stop large-scale ivory shipments at the country's ports," said Dr Criodain citing a recent CITES warning to the eight countries.He said it should also be noted that, while Tanzania's elephant population is indeed one of the largest in Africa, poaching in some areas, such as Selous Game Reserve is a concern to CITES members.
During the grace period, Dar es Salaam will have to submit an action plan to combat illegal ivory trade to CITES secretariat by 15 May and a decision will be made whether sanctions should be imposed or not, depending on the content of the action plan and the steps taken to implement it.
"A decision to impose sanctions (consisting of a suspension of trade in CITES-listed species with Tanzania) would be taken by the CITES Standing Committee, with input from the CITES Secretariat," Dr Criodain said in an emailed response to 'Sunday News' which sought to know what the CITES reprimand meant.
The WWF Policy Analyst however dismissed the possibility of Dar es Salaam being blacklisted by CITES saying stakeholders will be engaging with the standing committee in an effort to ensure that all eight countries show significant and measurable progress by summer of next year at the latest, when a week-long formal meeting of the Committee will take place in Geneva. More....