Southern Times (Africa)

Zambia, Zim still stuck with their ivory stockpiles …as international community remains non-committal to trade

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By Jeff Kapembwa

Lusaka — -Zambia and Zimbabwe remain stuck with stockpiles of unsold ivory because of lack of a response from the international community on the  ban on ivory ban.

Last November, there was a ray of hope over the two countries after the United States announced plans to reverse the ban of the sale and imports of ivory and elephant products from the two Southern African states.

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service had earlier signaled its intentions to end its 2014 ban, citing Zimbabwe’s conservation efforts.  The US had earlier announced its intention to allow the importation of elephant products hunted from 2016 to 2018, with two trophies allowed per import.

Zambia and Zimbabwe sought clarifications from the United States government and other relevant authorities to ascertain reports that the ban to export ivory to that country had been lifted, but little or no response has been forthcoming.

The ban in ivory trade is said to have cost Zambia and Zimbabwe in excess of US$400 million in potential revenue.

“We have not heard from the relevant authorities over the matter. Both Zambia and Zimbabwe have sought clarification from all those concerned, but no one is telling us anything. For now, we are still stuck with our stock piles,” Charles Banda, Zambia’s Minister of Tourism and Arts, told The Southern Times in an interview in Lusaka this week.

Efforts to seek clarifications from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) on the matter have remained futile, forcing Zambia to continue stockpiling the ivory confiscated from poachers and other illegal traders.

In November last year, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it had lifted an Obama-era ban on the import of sport-hunted trophies of elephants from Zimbabwe and Zambia. But a day later, US President Donald Trump said the decision was being reconsidered, and tweeted that he would review “all conservation facts” and issue an update “soon” with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Zinke later issued a statement, saying: “President Trump and I have talked and both believe that conservation and healthy herds are critical. As a result, in a manner compliant with all applicable laws, rules, and regulations, the issuing of permits is being put on hold as the decision is being