Namibia disappointed in CITES

Namibia, along with other SADC countries, believes that CITES has no interest in the well-being of local people and the environment.

06 September 2019 | Environment

Environment and tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta says Namibia was disappointed with the decisions made by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) at the recently concluded Conference of Parties (CoP18).

Shifeta, who briefed the media this week on the outcomes of the conference that took place in Geneva last month, said that was the reason why Namibia and other southern African countries were investigating their options to ensure that the principles of sustainable use of wildlife are upheld.

“We cannot be affiliated to something that does not support our interest and the well-being of our people,” he said.

Shifeta headed the Namibian delegation to CoP18 and was accompanied by technical officials from the ministry as well as community members from several conservancies.

Namibia submitted a proposal seeking to transfer the Namibian white rhino population from Appendix I to Appendix II. This was for the exclusive purpose of allowing international trade in live animals and hunting trophies to appropriate and acceptable destinations, while all other specimens would be traded as Appendix I specimens.

It also submitted a proposal seeking to amend the elephant annotation to allow trade in raw ivory by Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

According to the ministry Namibia's ivory stockpile now stands at 69 691 kg and is valued at N$125.4 million. The stockpile consists of 29 964 kg of legal ivory and 39 427 kg of illegal ivory. According to Shifeta a document was submitted asking for a review of the effectiveness of the implementation of the Convention, together with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Furthermore Namibia also proposed an amendment to allow for community participation in CITES processes together with Zimbabwe.

It further submitted a document calling for the formation of a Permanent Rural Community Committee to ensure that the voice of rural communities who are affected by CITES decisions is adequately heard. Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa and Zimbabwe were co-proponents.

“Unfortunately, all our proposals and documents were not supported and that poses a serious setback to our conservation programme, which is based on sustainable use of our wildlife resources and as provided for in our national constitution,” said Shifeta.

He said there were also other proposals and documents submitted by other parties with a bearing on the Namibian conservation programme.

These included a proposal to list giraffe on Appendix II, which was submitted by Central Africa Republic, Chad, Kenya, Mali, Niger and Senegal.

Shifeta said this proposal was accepted despite the fact that southern African countries, in which more than 70% of the global giraffe population occurs, were against the listing.

“This is also irrespective of the fact that international trade is not a threat to the giraffe population.”

According to him a document was also submitted by Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Liberia, the Niger, Nigeria and Syrian Arab Republic on the closure of ivory markets.

“Namibia and other southern African countries expressed strong opposition, stressing that there was no evidence of a link between legal domestic markets and poaching. Namibia also stressed that domestic trade is outside the mandate of the CITES Convention, hence the document was rejected,” said Shifeta.

According to him it is unfortunate that this very important science- based convention, which is supposed to be regulating sustainable trade, has been turned into a non-sustainable wildlife tool.

“Decisions are also no longer based on science. My delegation and I walked in the conference with strong conviction that the principles for which the CITES was established for will be upheld. In our understanding CITES should ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.”

Shifeta said all Namibia's submissions were based on this understanding and aimed at promoting conservation of natural resources.

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