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Xinhua, August 26, 2019

HARARE, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) — A high-powered delegation from Zimbabwe has joined fellow Southern African Development Community (SADC) delegates in Geneva, Switzerland, where they seek to have countries with high elephant populations allowed to exercise various management methods which include trophy hunting, culling and sale of ivory.

Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Acting Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu was expected to leave for Geneva Monday as some countries in the regional grouping which are struggling to maintain huge elephant populations in a sustainable way want their collective voice to be heard at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) summit in the Swiss city.

Zimbabwe is sitting on ivory and rhino horn stockpiles worth 600 million U.S. dollars following the CITES ban on hunting and trading of such products.

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa said recently that the ban was depriving the country of financial resources that it could use to support conservation of wildlife and natural resources for the next 20 years.

“We are gravely concerned by one-size-fits-all approach where banning of trade is creeping into the CITES decision-making processes. We call upon the institution to resist the temptation of being a ‘policing institution’ and instead be developmental one which promotes the intricate balance between conservation and sustainable utilization of all wildlife resources,” the president said as he opened the inaugural African Union and United Nations Wildlife Economy Summit in Victoria Falls in June.

The summit was attended by the presidents of Botswana, Zambia and Namibia as well as wildlife ministers from different countries.

Southern Africa is home to 50 percent of Africa’s elephants and Zimbabwe’s population of more than 84,000 against a carrying capacity of 40,000, is only second to that of Botswana in the world.

The fight to have the ban lifted remains an uphill task with Western countries always lobbying to have it maintained.

Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority spokesperson Tinashe Farawo told The Herald newspaper Monday that they would push to have the ivory trade ban lifted to allow poor communities endowed with elephants to benefit.

“We are going to Geneva tomorrow (Monday) and we will put our case together with SADC that these animals are a resource to communities and should benefit communities,” he said. “These are communities with people walking barefoot, with no schools or hospitals, but yet endowed with these animals.

“Worse still, the animals are now stretching the capacity of these communities in terms of food, considering the perennial drought our region has been subjected to.” he said. Enditem