CITES Investigates Zimbabwe Elephant Poaching

CITES secretary general, Willem Wijnstekers arrived in the country on Monday and is expected to meet senior government officials who include Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Enviroment Minister, Francis Nhema.

“Zimbabwe welcomes the visit by the CITES Secretary General as it affords an opportunity to interact with political leadership thus ensuring long term sustanaible wildlife management policies,” the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority said in a statement.

Last year Zimbabwe lost 65 elephants and 30 rhinos to poaching, the Wildlife Authority said last November.The Authority said the country also lost 59 Buffalos, 40 Zebras , 114 Impala and Kudus during the same time.

Wijnstekers’s visit comes as the senior government officials and the police are being accused of promoting wide spread poaching while a private Safari associations in the country have raised concerns over the increase of poaching on private safaris and not on state owned game parks.The associations have said this could be a calculated move from high political offices.

Zimbabwe has an elephant population of about 100 000 and has ivory stocks of 26 tonnes while rhino horn is four tonnes.The country is not allowed to trade in these horns but is allowed to sell carved artifacts to tourists but only in limited quantities costing less than US500 dollars per tourist.

CITES will hold its 15th COP (Conference of the Parties) summit in Doha, Qatar next month on March 13-25 to discuss various issues including increase of poaching in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe has been calling for the lifting of the ban on the trade of ivory but Kenya, another country that owns many jumbos has already called for the extension of the current ban on ivory trade from the current nine years to 20 years.