By Isa Chuki
African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) Monday commended the Tanzanian government’s recent decision to withdraw its proposal to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to sell some of its ivory stockpile.
CITES is the international agreement that regulates the trade of endangered plants and wildlife; more than 176 countries are signatories. Ahead of CITES’ 16th Conference of Parties, Tanzania had submitted a proposal to downlist the status of the country’s elephants and to allow a one–time sale of more than 100 tons of ivory to China and Japan. The government’s decision to withdraw the proposal comes in the midst of an elephant–poaching crisis stemming from a growing demand for ivory primarily in Asia.
“By withdrawing this controversial proposal, Tanzania has reaffirmed its commitment to protect a species integral to natural ecosystems and one that the tourism industry depends on,” said African Wildlife Foundation CEO Patrick Bergin. “The decision is an important step in the right direction to curb demand and stop the killing, but the issues of illegal ivory trafficking in Tanzania remains of great concern as elephants are still being killed at an alarming rate. African Wildlife Foundation continues to collaborate with wildlife authorities and local partners across the continent to maximize anti–poaching efforts that combat the illegal wildlife trade.” Tanzania holds one of the largest elephant populations in Africa.
AWF has worked in Tanzania for more than two decades, not only building the capacity of wildlife authorities and game scouts, but also supporting the establishment of wildlife management areas and other projects that make conservation worthwhile for local communities.
Manyara Ranch Conservancy, a 44,000-acre migration corridor connecting Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Parks, has become a model of conservation success in east Africa, one that includes eco-tourism enterprise that engages local people in protecting animals and their habitat.
More recently, AWF has implemented an anti-poaching task force in partnership with Tanzania National Parks, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, the Tanzania Police Force, and the State Attorney’s Office to improve the apprehension rates of suspected poachers and strengthen the sentences of those found guilty. More....