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SOS Rhino : In the News : Archived News : November 1999 : South Africa wants ivory sales

South Africa wants ivory sales


United Press International
November 10, 1999

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, South Africa's environment minister wants permission to sell its stockpile of elephants' tusks and hides as well as rhinoceros products and use the profits for conservation programs. A London newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, reported Wednesday that Minister Valli Moosa will seek permission from next year's conference of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. Animal rights groups have already condemned any such a one-time auctions, saying any sale of elephant products leads to a resurgence of the illegal ivory trade and large-scale poaching.

Earlier this year at a meeting in Geneva the conference granted similar requests by neighboring Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. Namibia was authorized to make a one-time sale of 13.8 tons, Zimbabwe 20 tons and, once it has complied with safeguards, Botswana 25 tons. According to the South African environment agency, Kruger National Park has 30 tons of elephant tusks and 152 tons of hides from a 30-year program of culling herds for environmental management. Moosa said the country could raise some $4 million by selling its ivory and hide stockpile and that the money could start a new elephant management program and control poaching. Moosa says the conventional estimate of the optimum elephant population for Kruger is about 7,000. But he says that since a moratorium on culling was imposed, the total at Kruger is close to 10, 000.

The New York Times reported in February that ten years after the international trade in ivory was banned, more than 21,000 pieces of ivory were offered for sale to tourists visiting Egypt. That report was based on a survey by Esmond Bradley Martin, a leading analyst of the trade in ivory and rhinoceros horn. At the time, the Nairobi-based Martin reported many tourists illegally brought the ivory -- much of it small, carved ornaments -- back to Europe. Imports and exports of ivory had been banned by the endangered species convention, under the authority of the United Nations, to halt an alarming fall in elephant numbers. The convention has since agreed to a limited sale of ivory stocks to Japan under strict controls, but all other international trade is forbidden.




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