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Tourism boosted as CITES backs ivory trade ban

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CITES has backed a ban on ivory trade and urged countries to use new technologies to monitor wildlife wealth  like these tusks under the watch of the KWS guards. Photo/FILE

CITES has backed a ban on ivory trade and urged countries to use new technologies to monitor wildlife wealth like these tusks under the watch of the KWS guards. Photo/FILE 

By WANGUI MAINA

Posted  Friday, March 19   2010 at  00:00
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Kenya’s opposition to ivory trade got a major boost after an influential watchdog backed the ban offering a rare support to tourism industry.

The Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) secretariat on Thursday recommended to the delegates meeting in Qatar that Tanzania’s proposal to trade in elephant ivory be rejected and that of Zambia allowed on its adequate control of poaching.

It said Zambia would be allowed to sell its stockpile as it has better enforcement mechanisms to rein in poachers.

While rejecting Tanzania’s proposal, the lobby raised concerns over enforcement and compliance in the country.

“Anti-poaching efforts in some parts of Tanzania seem inadequate, the ivory stocks cannot be fully verified, and controls of illegal trade in raw ivory originating from or transiting through Tanzania appear to be unsatisfactory,” CITES said.

Tanzania is pushing for a one-off sale of 90 tonnes of ivory to trading partners such as China while Zambia is keen to offload 22 tonnes of its stock pile.

Both countries had put in an application that would allow them to sell these stock-piles in a bid to raise funds that would go into conservation.

CITES is an international agreement between the governments of 175 member countries and is set to decide, among other proposals, whether to allow Tanzania and Zambia to sell part of their stockpiled ivory before next Thursday.

The two countries have asked for an exemption to the 1989 ban on ivory trade, which was put in place to protect the African elephant and rhino.

The recommendation is expected to help the delegates reach a final decision on ivory trading by next week.

Kenya relies heavily on tourism to earn foreign exchange and many visitors come to the country to visit its numerous game parks, and see its animals, among them a 35,000-strong heavily protected elephant population.

The sector is seen as one of the drivers of the economy, bringing in millions of dollars.

Last year, tourism earned Sh62.5 billion, up from Sh52.71 billion in 2008 from the 950,000 visitors who came into the country.

These earnings are, however, still lower than the 2007 performance, the country’s best year, when sector earned Sh65 billion.

Wildlife tourism is a major component of the country’s product appeal.

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