It was confirmed overnight from Doha that the biannual CITES meeting has indeed rejected the sale application for ivory from Tanzania and Zambia, a move undoubtedly welcomed by the conservation fraternity and all the elephants roaming our forests and savannah.
The 15th CoP CITES meeting in Doha was to decide whether to grant or to disallow the applications of Zambia and Tanzania to sell their “legal” ivory stocks, much of which is blood ivory confiscated from poachers. The two opposing sides were involved in last ditch lobbying and pressuring of friendly nations towards reaching a vote in their favor, with the anti-sale lobby offering their combined block vote in exchange to supporting the European nations seeking a ban on the fishing and trading of certain species of tuna fish.
Zambia and Tanzania were seeking the sale of over 100 tons of ivory, similar to previous exemptions for other Southern African countries, which was, however, promptly followed by a significant increase in poaching activities across Eastern Africa, from where blood ivory was then alleged to have been smuggled to those countries permitted to trade. This prompted howls of protest from Dar es Salaam, when the acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism also accused the secretariat of bias and being misinformed, the same language previously only heard from the opponents of the sale.
The true victors of this debate can only be the elephants on the African continent, where they are under huge and still growing pressure for farmland cutting into their traditional migration routes and ranges.