- Kenya is building a strong case against Tanzania following its request for an exemption to the 1989 ban on Ivory sales, saying it could lose more rhinos and elephants to poachers in the forests.
The Wildlife minister Noah Wekesa said Tanzania’s route to legalise its Ivory sales, could have negative implications and possibly sour relations between the two neighbours.
Kenya which claims to have not been informed and consulted by Tanzania to seeks permission at the next year’s Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meeting in Doha, said illegal sale of Ivory, reportedly high in the black market, could result in increased poaching rates.
“By Tanzania going that route yet we have shared ecosystems, Kenya is likely to lose more rhinos and elephants to poachers,” said Dr Wekesa.
The two countries share Serengeti-Tsavo, West-Mkomazi and Amboseli-Kilimanjaro parks, in which many of the species are found.
Head of species conservation and management at the Kenya Wildlife Service, Patrick Omondi, said Kenya had lost 214 elephants to poachers in 2008 compared to 47 in 2007 as a result of an experimental approval by CITES on a one-off sale of Ivory.
“Our experience has shown that trade in ivory and rhino horns stimulates illegal killings,” he said.
The last CITES conference in the Hague in June 2007 led to confrontations between African countries but they eventually reached a compromise prolonging the moratorium on ivory sales by nine years but allowing Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia and Botswana to make a one-off sale of 108 tonnes to buyers in China and Japan.
Elephant protection groups argue that this legal sale increased demand for ivory, much sought after throughout Asia for its decorative qualities, boosting the black market.
The UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES, imposed a global ban on the ivory trade in 1989 and Kenya reformed its wildlife conservation department to form the current Kenya Wildlife Service, helping to reduce poaching. But the current estimated population of 30,000 is still less than a fifth of the 1973 estimate of 167,000, according to reports.
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