Divided Africa fails with ivory proposal
Albertina Nakale, New Era Live
November 21, 2022
Southern Africa suffered a demoralising defeat at CITES that began in
Panama City last Monday when governments at the 19th Conference of the
Parties (CoP19) in Panama rejected a proposal to reopen the international
A proposal from 10 African nations for an effective trade ban on hippos has
not been recommended for adoption, and it is the same for a proposal from
Zimbabwe to resume limited sales of ivory stocks.
Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES),
all international ivory trade is banned.
“We have a lot of soul-searching to do so that we can find each other under
the banner of the African Union. The saddest moment for us was to see
countries voting against a proposed advisory committee for indigenous
peoples and local communities under CITES. Yet, decisions being taken here
affect those people directly,” Sikumba reacted.
Sikumba affirmed SADC countries have invested substantially in conservation
– and through good governance and the effective management of conservation,
they have demonstrated clear successes.
“We firmly believe that CITES is an international trade convention, and it
does not regulate domestic trade. Therefore, SADC will not agree to any
decision aimed at interfering with the domestic affairs of our countries
and our sovereignty. The positive thing is, at least, as SADC, we managed
to block the potential closure of the domestic ivory markets,” Sikumba
He assured the domestic ivory market remains open, and SADC member states
also continue to support the review and improvements on National Ivory
Action Plan (NIAP) proposals.
“The SADC region is against the up-listing of species, which is
science-based and it does not take into account the needs of the affected
parties and communities,” he stressed.
SADC desperately needs sustainable finance to support building capacity and
improve the effective conservation of its rich biodiversity, including
“For instance, the SADC region is home to more than 80% of the African
elephant population – more than 75% of the world rhino population and more
than 70% of the African lion population. The region is the only sub-region
where these populations are stable or increasing,” he said.
Equally, he informed us, biodiversity is one of the main indicators of a
healthy environment, and the southern African region is home to a diverse
range of the world’s megafauna and diverse flora.
“It is, therefore, important that our voice is heard, our efforts are
appreciated and the voice of our local communities is amplified,” he said.
Although SADC’s perspectives are diverse and perceptions on species thought
to be at increased risk of extinction due to trade vary, he said the region
believes that nations should be working together towards positive
conservation outcomes in the whole African region.
Sikumba pledged SADC is keen to work with other states towards achieving
positive conservation outcomes.
Further, he stated drivers of biodiversity loss, such as habitat loss,
over-exploitation and climate change will not be resolved through simply
the listing of species.
The conference will run until 25 November, with 183 countries considering
more than 100 proposals and documents submitted by governments to change
the levels of protection of species of wild animals and plants that are in
Last year, environment minister Pohamba Shifeta announced that Namibia has
an ivory stockpile of 69 391.71kg, worth over N$1 billion.
Namibia has over the years expressed concern over the cost and security
implications of holding large ivory stocks and has reiterated the country’s
stance towards the legal international trade of ivory, from which proceeds
would be utilised to support elephant conservation and rural conservation