- A conference on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) will be held in The Hague, Netherlands, from 3 – 15 June this year. But the conference is expected to disclose Southern Africa’s untold elephant story.
It will also spark off a stormy debate among some African countries as to whether elephants should be culled or removed from the list of endangered species.
While delegates from Botswana and Southern African neighbours settle for the removal of their elephant populations from the list of endangered species, Kenya and Mali whose elephants have been endangered by poaching, spoke on the contrary.
Conservationists from the western world have partnered with Mali and Kenya to campaign against ivory trade by Botswana, which according to them, will facilitate illegal trade of elephant products. They believe that Botswana is being used as a transit route of illegal ivory trade by its neighbours such as Namibia and South Africa.
Besides, it is speculated that an increase in elephant population in Botswana is mainly attributed to the escalating poaching in Namibia. However, there is no empirical evidence to prove the speculations.
Proceeds derived from the sale of ivory is ploughed back to conserve elephants as well as finance some development projects which in turn better the lives of people, Botswana officials from the ministry of environment and wildlife defended.
Officials said the proceeds will also be used to stimulate development projects in rural communities within the elephant range.
It is against this background that Botswana has submitted proposals for consideration for the CITES Cop 14 to be held in The Hague so that its elephants do not fall within the endangered species category.
“We invite the international media to come and see how the country is successfully committed to elephant conservation,” said a government official, describing the growing elephant population is regarded as a “natural resource (tourism) of great economic potential and constitutes one of the continents greatest conservation successes.”
With a population of1.85 million inhabitants, it is estimated that Botswana has an elephant population of 155,000. It is the exact size of France or Texas.
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