Zimbabwe threatens to withdraw from Cites over ivory trade ban

The country said it has more than 130 tonnes of ivory stored up in high-security vaults in Harare, which could help to fund wildlife conservation.

FILE: Ivory stockpile. Picture: AFP

HARARE - Zimbabwe has threatened to pull out of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), the international treaty to protect endangered species if it isn’t allowed to sell some of its ivory stockpile.

The country said it had more than 130 tonnes of ivory stored up in high security vaults in Harare that could help to fund wildlife conservation.

Environment Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu said that Zimbabwe would attend the next Cites meeting in November to present a strong position.

He said they were willing to defend that position, even outside of Cites.

This is a strong signal that Zimbabwe is willing to go it alone to sell off part of its ivory stocks.

Officials told European Union diplomats this week that those stocks are worth around $600 million.

In comments carried by state media, Ndlovu said a Cites ban on the ivory trade and the sale of live elephants to international buyers has left the country with limited choices.

Zimbabwe’s state wildlife authority said growing elephant numbers were fueling human-wildlife conflict with 24 people reportedly killed by elephants last year.