By Lawson Chad, The Patriot
Environment and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta, who is currently attending the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) said, stopping the sale of elephant tusks is not the solution to poaching. The convention that is being attended by countries from all over the world is based on an international agreement between governments with the aim to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
Shifeta said that closing down legal domestic market of elephant tusks, rhino horns and other wildlife products does not mean that there will be no more demand for the product. He further believes that those who are getting it the legal way will try by all means to get it from illegal suppliers and this will have serious negative impact on the elephants’ population.
Shifeta was speaking to motivate why domestic markets of elephant tusks and rhino horns should not be closed down, a proposal made by delegates from countries like Kenya, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria and others who have been battling illegal hunting of elephants, rhinos and other protected wild animals.
“The proponents have not demonstrated their claim that all domestic ivory markets are linked to illegal killing and trade. Additionally and most importantly, domestic markets are outside the mandate of this Convention. In fact this issue if allowed to sail through here has a potential to eroding sovereignty of states,” expressed Shifeta. He added that even if it is found in the future that empirical evidence backs the proposal, the countries should find other means to deal with the matter rather than ignoring the Public International law which is opposed to the proposal.
Shifeta reminded the delegates that the proposition is in sharp contrast with established intentional rules which is part of the Law of nations. For Namibia, he continued “closing the legal domestic market does not mean that there will be no more demand for the product. In fact those who used to get it legally will try by all means to get it from illegal suppliers and this will have serious negative impact on elephant’s population as this will only incentives the criminals in the illegal market to satisfy the demands.
“Namibia deeply disagrees with such a proposal and that as parties here we have no mandate to extent the jurisdiction of the convention to encroach in the sovereignty of member states. And I repeat there is no legal basis on which this forum can use to throw a net of this convention beyond its jurisdiction,” said Shifeta. Shifeta told The Patriot that he remains optimistic that Namibia might enter up selling the stock pile of ivory and make a profit that can benefit the country in one way or the other.