Golden Sibanda Senior Reporter
South Africa has thrown its full weight behind Harare’s position on trade in wildlife saying the Convention on Trade In Endangered Species (CITES) must be sensitive to the plight and circumstances of members such as Zimbabwe.
This comes after President Mnangagwa said last month that Zimbabwe had an elephant population and ivory stockpile, which if sold, would raise funding for conservation through procurement of equipment and fences for buffer zones to curtail human-wildlife conflict.
South Africa’s Environmental Affairs, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy said South Africa supported Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia, when they sought permission to sell their ivory and some endangered species at the Conference of the Parties (Cops) in Geneva, Switzerland last month.
She, however, pointed out that while South Africa supported the proposals by its fellow SADC countries it did not face exactly the same situation.
Minister Creecy said while South Africa had a different situation regarding its endangered species, which includes absence of human-animal conflict; it fully supported the positions of Zimbabwe and other SADC countries on the issue of trade in the endangered species.
“Obviously, we understand the situation that our neighbours face, but we are not facing the same situation. I think from the perspective of South Africa, we think that we need to be doing a lot more to help other African countries understand the specific conditions that prevail in the SADC countries,” she said in an interview with The Herald on the sidelines of the just-ended World Economic Forum.
Minister Creecy said if, for instance, Kenya had a particular way it wants to approach an issue, its choice must be respected, but similar respect must be accorded to other SADC countries on the issues of their concern.
“Having said that, I think the developed countries also need to understand the situation that obtains on the ground (in SADC regarding the balance between animals and the carrying capacity of land),” she said.