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Home / World / Some African countries want to fight a wildlife taboo. If I should sell ivory again.

Some African countries want to fight a wildlife taboo. If I should sell ivory again.



The Murle Hunter, a semi-automatic weapon hanging over his shoulder, definitely did not appreciate my question.

We were in Boma, South Sudan, near the border with Ethiopia, one of the most remote wilderness areas of the continent.

During the brutal war with the North, which lasted from the early 1980s to 2005, both sides eradicated much of the wildlife to feed their fighters and raise money. This war was over, but the massacre of wildlife continued.

Zebra, giraffe, elephant and white-eared kob (a kind of antelope) were all considered as fair game.

annoyed and pointed to my stomach and then to his: "You're fat, but I'm skinny, if you were as thin as me, you would shoot and eat the animals."

I often think about this conversation. [1

9659007] This week, representatives from around the world gathered in Geneva for the CITES convention.

CITES is the contract that regulates international trade in endangered wildlife products – a billion-dollar trade.

The most controversial issue under discussion is the potential trade in elephant ivory.

International trade in ivory is currently banned. The last "one off" sale was approved in 2007.

And there is a sharp and increasingly violent split between the African countries.

  Media representatives gather around the carcass of a dead elephant in Chobe. on September 19, 2018.

East and North African states wanted to continue the ban and continue to protect elephant populations on the continent – they are supported by many Western countries and environmental groups.

The South African states are pushing for the sale of the valuable ivory supplies they are sitting on.

"Tell me, why would you have an asset that has no value? That's the basic question, if people want to take care of our wildlife, there must be some value attached to it, or we'll be sitting on a ticking time bomb," said Kitso Mokaila, Environment, Wildlife and Tourism Minister of Botswana.

We were there to report about the resumption of elephant hunts in Botswana – a gossip heavily criticized in the West. Mokaila did not have much time for environmental groups overseas.

"It's okay to be a critic from home," he said.

The point he – like the Murle hunter – wanted to address is that the perspective in the conservation debate is important. [19659002] A tourist photographing a herd of elephants from his Land Rover to share on Instagram has a very different experience than a farmer whose crop is trampled on by a grumpy bull-sized elephant in the size of a truck.

South African governments point to their relatively stable elephant populations and say that ivory sales benefit people and nature conservation with profits.

Others say it's not that easy.

"I do not accept the argument put forward by Botswana and others Selling ivory In the past, local communities have never benefited from it, in the future they will not benefit from it – it's just a big lie," said Paula Kahumbu, one well-known Kenyan conservationist.

  Botswana considers converting elephants into pet food and repealing a hunting ban

It also claims that the continental-wide snapshot of elephant numbers is even worse.

Since this one-time ivory sale, poaching has increased dramatically across the state, say elephant ecologists. In the years 2007 to 2014 alone, the number of savanna elephants has fallen by at least 30%, according to the 2016 Big Elephant Census.
The rates of poaching seemed to peak in 2011, but are still unacceptable to Richard Thomas of Traffic, the group that monitors poaching on CITES.

The ivory ban that China introduced in early 2018 may not have had any effect. Chinese nationals are still one of the biggest consumers of ivory products.

"Now, travelers from China only buy their ivory outside of China," Thomas Status Quo said about elephants and ivory. Both the East and South African governments are dissatisfied with this result.

While they disagree, conservationists are all agreed that elephants and other species are likely to fail without the buy-in of the community, heavily fortified and fenced parks.

"If you have situations where wildlife is not beneficial and is indeed competing with humans, I think the prognosis is pretty bad," said John Scanlon, the former secretary general of Cites, who is now an envoy for is African parks.

He said that poaching needs to be combated, but the human-animal conflict and competition for land constitute the greater long-term threat.

The African population will conservatively do more than two billion over the next thirty years years. And when it comes to people or animals first, the choice for the government is easy.

But responsible governments do not want to make that choice.

"There is a perception that a lot of money goes into tourism, but for the Batswana, who live next to this Eden, they are still in dire poverty and we need to make sure that the communities get these benefits," says Makaila , the minister in Botswana.

Kahumbu from Kenya agrees. She says there is a movement in Kenya that gives communities shares and other forms of ownership of the luxury concessions.

"It's going to be a rocky road, but it can be done," she said, adding that more African conservationists need to be recognized for the perspective they bring with them from their communities.

This reminds me of another conversation that I had a few years ago in Kenya.

I asked a Maasai shepherd what he thought about the fact that the Westerners did not tell their churches to hunt lions as part of the traditional rite of passage to adulthood.

"There used to be lions in Europe?" asked he.

"Yes, there was," I said.

"Where are you now?" he answered.


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