By Leya Musa
Zambia is lobbying other countries to be able to sell its 46 tons of ivory stockpile. The news came in an answer to a question raised in the Zambian parliament.
The original question was raised by MMD Lumezi Member of Parliament (MP) Isaac Banda who asked how much ivory the Zambia Wildlife Authority held between September 2009 to September 2010 and October 2010 to December 2014.
In response Tourism and Arts Deputy Minister Patrick Ngoma said that ZAWA held 35 tons of ivory between September 2009 and September 2010 with it increasing to 46 tons up to December 2014.
A supplementary question was asked by Banda who wanted to know if money from ivory sales helped local communities.
The supplementary question was answered by Tourism Minister Jean Kapata who said that Zambia could not sell the ivory and tusks as the elephant in Zambia is covered by Appendix 1 of the CITES treaty and trade is banned.
However she also said that the Zambia government is lobbying other countries to allow ivory from Zambia to be downgraded to Appendix 2 which would allow them to sell the ivory for investment in development programmes.
She also informed the house that most of the ivory and tusks in Zambia came from natural deaths or elephants which had been put down by government officials due to disease. However she also acknowledged that poaching is rampant in the country.
She informed the house that despite there being an international ban on ivory trading the government had donated tusks to various traditional tribal people for use in burials of chiefs and senior tribal members as this was required by tradition.