Zimbabwe News

Environment Minister: Zimbabwe sitting on US$700 million worth ivory stockpile

Zimbabwe has 166 221.18kg ivory stockpile worth US$700 million but cannot sell the ivory due to the ban on international trade in elephant tusks.

This was said by the Minister of Environment, Climate Change and Wildlife, Sithembiso Nyoni while responding to questions in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

She said the stockpile was from 26,906 pieces collected in and outside its national parks. Nyoni said (via New Ziana):

As an international law-abiding country, we have complied and are being pushed to keep this stock.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) banned international trade in ivory in 1989.

However, CITES permitted Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe to make a one-off sale of their ivory in 1997 and 2008 after recognising that some Southern African elephant populations were healthy and well-managed.

Zimbabwe wants CITES to lift the international ban on trade in ivory to enable it to use the proceeds to fund its wildlife conservation programmes.

Proceeds from the sale of ivory will be used to fund anti-poaching activities, drilling boreholes in the Hwange National Park where animals face water shortages, as well as combating human-wildlife conflict.

Due to the ban, the elephant population has ballooned over the years, from 84,000 in 2014 when the last census was conducted, to an estimated more than 100,000 at present.

Zimbabwe’s game parks have a carrying capacity of 45,000 elephants. Said Minister Nyoni:

To give you a vivid picture Madam Speaker, in Matabeleland North, the elephant population has increased from 49 310 to 61 531. This was from 2021 to 2022, an increase of 12 221 and this was based on an aerial survey.

She also highlighted the rise in cases of human-wildlife conflict that threatens the safety of people and their livelihoods. Said the Minister:

In 2023 alone, more than 35 people were killed by wildlife and more than 80 were injured. The consequences of human-wildlife conflict are more serious in wildlife areas such as communities around Hwange National Parks.

People lose livestock and crops and yet these are an important part of their livelihoods and incomes, apart from themselves losing lives.

Nyoni said the government is setting up a Human-Wildlife Conflict Relief Fund to assist the remaining family members of those killed as well as those injured and maimed by wild animals.

The fund will be managed by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks).

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