Chinese, Japanese buy $1.2 mn worth Namibia ivory

October 28th, 2008 - 10:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Windhoek (Namibia), Oct 28 (DPA) Namibia took in over $1 million at its second exceptional auction of stockpiled ivory in nearly 20 years Tuesday.Two Chinese and three Japanese bidders paid $1.2 million for a little over seven tonnes of ivory tusks that have accumulated in Namibia game parks since its last authorised sale of ivory in 1999.

The UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) banned ivory trade in 1989 to protect elephants against poaching.

This is the second time since the 171-member-nation CITES has given the nod for stockpile sales by southern African countries with healthy elephant populations.

South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe are together auctioning off around 107 tonnes of tusks to Chinese and Japanese buyers at one-day auctions over the next two weeks.

The tusks sold behind closed doors at a hotel in Windhoek Tuesday were harvested from protected elephants in the country’s game parks, mostly after they died a natural death.

The identities of the buyers was not released.

A further 2.8 tonnes of ivory was retained by the ministry of environment for the purposes of carving the traditional trinkets called “ekipa” for sale within Namibia.

Environment and Tourism Minister Leon Jooste said Monday’s sale was a “culmination of six years’ worth (of) hard work that saw us overcome major challenges that were aimed at derailing this sale by those who are against any form of trade in ivory”.

“Today marks a triumph, not only for the countries partaking in this ivory sale, but for everybody, who believes in and supports the principle of sustainable utilization of natural resources.”

Jooste said all revenue would be reinvested in conservation and development.

Willem Wijnstekers, secretary-general of CITES said there been no indication so far to support claims by animal rights activists that all sales of ivory - even legal - stimulate the black market trade in ivory, and consequentially, elephant poaching.

“NGO’s created the impression that it’s a free for all” by putting out headlines linking poaching and sales, he said.

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