“Our conservation methods are working, and I believe that instead of being punished, we should be rewarded,” Fulton Mangwanya, the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority director, said about Zimbabwe’s request to lift the international ivory trade ban.
Zimbabwe, along with Botswana, Namibia and Zambia, wants the United Nations Convention on International Trade Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to lift the ban on the ivory trade. Zimbabwe urged EU diplomats to allow a one-off sale of the ivory.
According to Zimbabwe, the money they’ll make from selling their $600-million stock of ivory will help them to better help elephants and local communities who live close to the animals.
With around 100,000 elephants, Zimbabwe has the world’s second-largest population and about one-quarter of the elephants in all of Africa. Botswana is home to 130,000 elephants.
More than half of the elephants in Zimbabwe live in and outside the unfenced wildlife park Hwange. It is common to find elephants crossing or resting along the main highway from Hwange to the nearby prime tourist resort of Victoria Falls.
Some conservationists don’t believe that Zimbabwe has 100,000 elephants and argue that the country lies about its conservation efforts. Lifting the trade ban on ivory trade would threaten elephant populations, conservationists said.
The United States, some EU countries, and the United Kingdom oppose lifting the ban, while Japan and China are some of the countries in support.
Since 1989, the international trade in ivory and elephants has been banned under CITES. Despite fierce opposition, one-off sales were allowed in 1999 and 2008. If the one-off sale isn’t approved, the Zimbabwe government has threatened to pull out of the convention.
As human population – Zimbabwe is home to almost 15 million humans- and elephant population is growing, so are the problems between the two; there’s not enough space in the country to sustain both humans and wild animals.
Human-wildlife conflict is not only a problem Zimbabwe is facing. With almost 8 billion humans on the planet, there’s little space for wild animals to blossom.
A growing number of cases of human-elephant conflicts causes a major concern in Africa and Asia as humans are invading elephants’ territory.
According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), over the last 100 years, African elephant populations have declined from 3-5 million to 470,000-690,000, and Asian elephant populations have declined from 100,000 to between 35,000 and 50,000.
Losing areas to live, poaching and conflict with people are among the biggest threats to elephants’ survival. Mostly small farmers and elephants have problematic encounters.
Small farmers spread on land close to water sources, and the crops they plant are usually part of a traditional diet. As their habitat is shrinking, elephants in search of food often enter farmers’ land and eat their crops.
Farmers in India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia have poisoned and killed elephants to keep them away from their land. And wildlife authorities in Kenya shoot between 50 and 120 ‘problem’ elephants each year, according to the WWF.
Governments often let farmers fend for themselves and don’t implement solutions that have been proven to work: electric fences, creating protected areas for elephants away from the crop fields, special corridors, chili plantations, and acoustic and light-based deterrents.
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