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    Photo credit by Sabi Sabi Game Reseve, Kruger National Park, South Africa

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    Photo credit by Amakhala Game Reserve, Eastern Cape, South Africa

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    Amakhala Game Reserve, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Tanzanian President bans the sale of ivory stockpile

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In his efforts to convince the world about his work to combat poaching of elephants in his country, the Tanzanian President, Jakaya Kikwete, said he will stop the auction and sale of the ivory stockpile.

The Tanzanian President said he will not sign a document that would allow his government to sale through an international auction, the 137 tons of ivory stockpile, worth over US$80 million.

He said the motive behind his administration was to ensure that poaching of elephants, rhinos and trade in bloody ivory are stopped, also poaching of lions, leopards and other animals species.

Mr. Kikwete said Tanzania has been hit hard with illegal trade of live animals which had so far, threatened survival of wildlife in protected and unprotected wildlife areas.

Before President Kikwete announced his motive to ban the sale of the ivory stockpile, his government had applied to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Secretariat to allow this African elephant range state sale its ivory stockpile.

The government had been lobbying to sale the ivory lot to raise additional funds for conservation of wildlife.

A bid to sale the ivory stockpile flopped in 2010 during the CITES Conference of parties which met in Doha, Qatar where the Tanzanian government submitted its proposal to sale the ivory lot.

Former minister for Tourism Mr. Kagasheki said last year that Tanzanian government efforts in anti-poaching fight faced a myriad of challenges, including insufficient funds to curb poaching, inadequate awareness of environmental crime among law enforcing agencies, lucrative illegal markets for poaching syndicates, corruption and lack of political will to support anti- poaching efforts.

Tanzania’s main ivory stockpile is well secured in a strong room at the Wildlife Division in Dar es Salaam, and is provided with permanent surveillance.

Other two smaller stocks of 13.2 tons are kept at Arusha National Park and the Ngorongoro conservation Area, under the control of the Tanzania National Parks and Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority.

But, when Tanzania is trying to lobby other nations to ban ivory trade in China, Thailand, Japan and other South-East Asian markets, wildlife conservationists are looking for openness and transparency in government’s wildlife departments.

Local and international conservation groups blamed the government of Tanzania for failing to involve poor communities in conservation of wildlife, while rich hunting companies benefit more from wildlife resources.

London based International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) said in its paper published this week that a potentially valuable tool that generates incentives for local people to engage in conservation is in danger of being overlooked.

The paper to address delegates of the ongoing “Wildlife Crime Conference,” urges policymakers to combine law enforcement and efforts to reduce demand with incentives that encourage poor communities to use wildlife in a sustainable and well regulated way.

“Effectively tackling wildlife crime means developing approaches that protect wildlife for poor people not from poor people,” it says.

The paper-, whose authors include staff at IIED the International Trade Center and the IUCN (the International Union for Conservation of Nature) specialist group on Sustainable Use and Livelihoods, notes that, wildlife is one of the strongest assets for sustainable development for many rural communities.

A wealth of experience from across the globe demonstrates that sustainable use of that wildlife – through trade, tourism and trophy-hunting – can be one of the most powerful incentives for conservation as well as acting as an engine for local economic development.

Trafficking of wildlife, driven by escalating demand for products such as rhino horn and elephant ivory, is a booming market worth US$19 billion a year.

It has long been a concern to conservation organizations – some of the species involved are highly endangered or are iconic conservation flagships – but has recently become of wider, national security, concern because of suggested links to organized crime and armed militant groups.

But wildlife means more than just the elephants, rhinos and tigers that dominate the news headlines. There’s a danger that a focus on these iconic species will lead policymakers to develop ‘one-size fits all’ responses.

Across Africa and Asia, the wildlife trade also involves many other species that could form an important component of local economies if people were allowed to use them in a sustainable way.

“It is encouraging to see serious commitment from world leaders to address the deepening problem of wildlife crime,” says Dilys Roe, Principal Researcher at IIED. “But while strengthening law enforcement and reducing demand are important, we also need to pay more attention to how best to incentivize local people to manage and conserve wildlife.”

Simon Milledge, head of IIED’s forest team says: “Heavy-handed law enforcement can be a blunt instrument for addressing this complex issue. If not well targeted it could have serious, unintended, implications for some of the world’s poorest communities as well as failing to recognize their potential to conserve wild species by using them sustainably.”

The unintended consequences of heavy-handed responses to wildlife poaching were recently exposed in Tanzania, where a parliamentary inquiry found 13 people were murdered and thousands of livestock maimed or killed.

“Sustainable wildlife use and a well regulated trade are important components of strategies to combat illegal trade and generate conservation success”, says Michael Murphree, Interim Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group.

Source: Apolinari Tairo, eTN Tanzania Correspondent

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