Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia, which account for an estimated 61% of elephants in Africa, have submitted their position papers and are confident of getting the green light on raw ivory trade at the forthcoming Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meeting scheduled for Colombo, Sri Lanka in May.

Signatories to CITES have until the end of this week to submit documents for consideration at the forthcoming CITES Cop18 meeting.

Southern African countries, which account for 61% of Africa’s elephant population, are for first time speaking with one voice in calling for the lifting of the ban in ivory trade.

As part of their submission, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia and Botswana are seeking the green light on international trade in registered raw ivory.

Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority (Zimparks) Public Relations Manager, Mr Tinashe Farawo said the country has already submitted its position paper, adding that notable achievements have been recorded since the last CITES meeting in elephant conservation and management.

“Together with the other SADC countries, Zimbabwe has submitted the position paper ahead of CITES Cop18. We have always said our elephants are not endangered and have over the past few years exceeded the carrying capacity,” Mr Farawo said1.

According to the 12-page proposal, the four countries are seeking the amendment of the annotation to the listing of the elephant populations in Appendix ii.

The listing of a species in Appendix i effectively prevents all commercial international trade, while those listed in Appendix ii can be traded under special permit conditions.

Wth a combined elephant population estimated to be around 250 000, the four countries are hopeful that this time around, they will be able to convince the CITES family to reconsider the international ban in ivory trade.

Critics of CITES however feel the decisions by the global body are geared at hurting developing countries and have called upon Southern African countries to reconsider their membership.