Zimbabwe has joined other Southern African countries in calling for a global ban on the trade of ivory and tusks to be relaxed.
It said that selling the ivory will help it to raise money for conservation as authorities estimate the value of its stockpiles at around US$300 million.
According to reports, Zimbabwe’s demands to sell ivory puts it on a collision course with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
CITES prohibits trade in ivory as a way of reducing poaching.
In an interview with AFP, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management (ZIMPARKS) spokesperson, Tinashe Farawo said:
If we are not allowed to trade we will not take part in CITES discussions on elephants.
Our decision to sell ivory is not an emotional one. It is a scientific one backed by facts. At independence in 1980, we had 40,000 elephants and the number has more than doubled and yet the land is not expanding.
… CITES was meant to regulate trade in endangered species but if there is no trade then CITES is not serving its purpose.
According to ZIMPARKS, the country has an elephant population of around 84 000. This is almost double what it can cope with.
However, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in the last ten years, the elephant population across Africa fell from about 111,000 to 415,000, largely due to poaching for ivory.