By Violet Mengo
A Zambian woman has been arrested in Ethiopia for alleged illegal possession of three hand bracelets made of ivory.
Esther Namakuba Muyangana was arrested at Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport for allegedly having the ivory bracelets without a permit from the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Spices of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITIES).
All African countries including, Ethiopia, are party to the CITES convention which prohibits commercial trade in ivory and ivory products.
The Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) says Muyangana was travelling from Miami to Zambia, as a transit passenger via the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
“Wearing ivory bracelets is a symbol of cultural identity in Zambia, but people should also be cautious of the laws and regulations surrounding possession of such items as it relates to the protection of wildlife,” ZAWA says in a statement issued by its communications and public relations officer, Mwila Muliyunda.
ZAWA advised that those in possession of elephant tasks, rhino horns and other wildlife products should declare such items to ZAWA head office in Chilanga and get a certificate of ownership before travelling.
An alternative is to leave such bracelets and ornaments at home when travelling.
Other prohibited wildlife products that require a ZAWA and CITES permit to be moved in and out of the country include, ivory in its raw or carved form, protected plants, elephant hair products, reptile and wildlife skins, bird eggs and feathers, wildlife horns, teeth, tusks and claws and bush meat, popularly known as game meat.
“Locally, we also now have to deal with people bringing such products and ornaments to Zambia after buying them from neighbouring countries where they are not illegal,” she said.
In Namibia, cut-up ivory even in its raw form is not illegal and yet in Zambia ornaments made out of this product are illegal without permit.
Last month, ZAWA arrested a traveller found in possession of a bottle opener with a handle
made of a warthog tooth.
“The person stated that it was bought in Namibia. But ZAWA is appealing to people to not just sneak in these items and expect ZAWA officers to guess as to whether they were purchased legally, locally or not. They must declare these items at ports of entry in order to avoid inconvenience,” she said.