Namibian Sun

N$232 million lost due to ivory trade constraints (Namibia)

October 29, 2021

WINDHOEK: Namibia is losing roughly N$232 million per year due to trade restrictions on ivory.

The country has argued for decades to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) that the full economic value obtainable from elephants is necessary to create sufficient incentives for rural communities to coexist with elephants.

According to the National Elephant Conservation and Management Plan, inadequate revenue from community-based conservation is potentially the most serious threat to human-elephant conflict management in Namibia.

It says this is because the basic tolerance and respect for elephants and other wildlife species can be eroded if conservancy members do not see sufficient benefits from these animals.

“Conservancy incomes from elephants accrue to the whole conservancy, but losses are seldom beyond the level of individual households. Mechanisms to offset losses suffered by individual farmers may not be adequate,” the report reads.

Money, Money, Money

The report says that estimates of the costs of losses caused by elephants in Namibia and the costs of installing infrastructure to prevent losses are certainly within the scope of income that can be earned from elephants just from trading in the ivory recovered from natural and management-related mortalities.

“Sustainable conservation and management of elephants in Namibia and effective mitigation of human elephant conflicts are therefore held ransom over animal rights-fuelled unproven fears that a regulated legal trade in ivory will cause harm to other elephant populations.”

The Overview of Elephant Conservation and Management in Namibia report further says although Namibia’s conservation achievements concerning elephants and other species are widely known, it has not always received international support for its elephant conservation programmes, specifically in CITES, and more recently, virtually no support but much hostility.

“Decisions taken by CITES to block the generation of much-needed funding for elephant conservation through trade in elephant products such as ivory, which has the highest value of all elephant products, have worked against Namibia’s interests and may compromise its national conservation strategies.”

The report says that with all the difficulties in CITES to trade in elephant ivory an important mechanism for enhancing the contribution of elephants to socio-economic development has been compromised.

It further adds that Namibia has an abundance of ivory and can generate it sustainably and ethically.

“The ability of rural communities to generate optimal incomes from wildlife is severely constrained.”

The report says that a major part of this is due to CITES trade restrictions on the most valuable wildlife products that such communities can produce, including ivory.

It says the amount of ivory in the Namibian stockpile is not in the public domain, but a tonne of ivory is worth about US$1 million (around N$14.5 million).

Taking a population of 20,000 elephants and a natural mortality rate of 4% per year yielding an average tusk weight of 10 kg, the annual ivory yield from just 800 elephants dying from natural causes is 16 tonnes of ivory, worth US$16 million (N$232 million).