Zim sitting on $100 Million ivory stockpile

Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) is sitting on a $100 million ivory stockpile, weighing at least 40 tonnes, amid concerns over the country’s growing elephant population and resultant conservation pressures.

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The stockpile has grown to more than 40 000kg over the years, while the elephant population has shot up to more than 85 000 against a carrying capacity of 55 000 animals. A moratorium imposed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has been blamed for the rise in poaching and the growing elephant population.

Government’s wildlife conservation and anti-poaching programmes have also contributed to the increasing number of gigantic mammals.

This comes amid indications that there was significant growth in the population of the other animals that make up the Big Five including the leopard, rhinoceros, lion, buffalo and elephant. In an interview, Zimparks director-general Mr Fulton Mangwanya said Zimbabwe was doing well in wildlife conservation despite the withdrawal of support by the international community.

“Right now I have ivory that is worth more than $100 million and if we get that money as Zimparks and plough it back into conservation and into community projects, no one would be able to go into those areas to poach,” said Mr Mangwanya. “If we open the trade of ivory it will stop this whole menace of poaching. It will save lives because the poachers are going into the parks and we are shooting to kill. Rather we would discourage poaching by opening the market.”

There are at least 10 registered buyers of ivory, mostly for artefacts in the country which is insignificant in terms of reducing the ivory stockpile. The country has to apply for special permission from CITES to sell the tusks amid indication that around $13 million was needed annually to secure the stockpile.

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