Ivory trade ban under spotlight at Kaza Summit

Source: The Herald – Breaking news.

Ivory trade ban under spotlight at Kaza Summit 
President Mnangagwa a few years ago was quoted saying Zimbabwe is sitting on about US$600 million stockpiles.

Leonard Ncube in LIVINGSTONE, Zambia

PRESIDENT Mnangagwa is today expected to join other Heads of State at the 2024 Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) Summit in Livingstone, Zambia, with the trade ban on ivory likely to be topical.

Technical teams comprising conservationists from Government and private sector have been meeting from Saturday to deliberate on the state of KAZA.

Ministers responsible for wildlife, natural resources and tourism in the KAZA region joined the technocrats on Wednesday ahead of today’s official Heads of State Summit to be attended by the five presidents.

The KAZA TFCA is a conservation area covering five Southern African countries, Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe with a population of over two million people and 227 900 elephants centred around the Caprivi-Chobe-Victoria Falls corridor.

It has a total of 520 000 square kilometres and about 70 percent of land is under conservation, with 103 wildlife management areas, 85 forest reserves and three world heritage sites.

Topical at the meetings and to be presented to the Heads of State, has been the state of KAZA, particularly the need for harmonised policies and activities, enhanced borderless region, involving communities in conservation activities, implementing the KAZA Univisa, continued ban on ivory trade by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of Wild Fauna and Flora, and capacitating rangers in all member states.

CITES downlisted Southern African range countries to Appendix 1 limiting trade in ivory and related products resulting in stockpiles.

KAZA member states are reportedly sitting on a combined US$1 billion worth of stockpiles. 

President Mnangagwa a few years ago was quoted saying Zimbabwe is sitting on about US$600 million stockpiles.

The country has the world’s second largest elephant population after Botswana which holds the highest in the world, and so KAZA automatically has the biggest population.

In an interview, Environment, Climate and Wildlife Minister Dr Sithembiso Nyoni said all was set for the Heads of State Summit.

“It has been a busy programme as we were taken through presentations where officials gave us an update on what has been happening in KAZA. We all agreed that this summit has been well supported by all the five countries and all the ministers without fail were able to attend.

“The support from our national offices is overwhelming and now we need to take it to the people to make sure that collectively we support KAZA. So we expect the Head of State for the Summit on Friday,” said Dr Nyoni.

She said all member states were in agreement about taking KAZA to the future with involvement of ordinary citizens and communities.

“All of us, we said we need to take this programme from the State to the ground and we agreed that these KAZA programmes have to benefit our people. Without the participation of our people, this programme will not succeed.

“We also had discussions about the Univisa so that if a country issues a visa to anybody, for 30 days that person can visit any country with that visa. I think that is progressive and we had a trial run which worked between Zambia and Zimbabwe,” she said.

Proceedings will end tomorrow.

The theme for the summit is: “Leveraging KAZA’s natural capital and cultural heritage resources as catalysts for development of the ecosystem.”