Kenya steps up fight against ivory trade

Friday February 26 2010

By SATURDAY NATION Correspondent

Kenya upped its campaign against international trade in ivory ahead of next month’s Doha Conference of Parties by hosting more than 20 diplomats to present its case.

Dubbed the bush breakfast, the Kenya Wildlife Service used Friday’s occasion to appeal to the envoys and their representatives, mostly from western Europe, to block attempts by Tanzania and Zambia to sell 110 tonnes of ivory.

The event was held at the symbolic ivory burning site where former president Daniel Moi set ablaze tonnes of tusks seized from poachers in 1989.

Kenya submitted a proposal for the March Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species (Cites) 15th Conference in Doha seeking to extend the moratorium on international trade in ivory to 20 years from the nine agreed in 2007 at The Hague.

KWS director Julius Kipng’etich told the diplomats that the spirit of The Hague agreement had been betrayed by the Cites secretariat and the Tanzania and Zambia governments.

Wiped out
“There is a clear disconnect between the spirit and the wording of the agreement,” he said, referring to a loophole in the wording of the moratorium that appeared to ban only Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia from selling ivory.

The four countries were allowed to conduct a one-off sale in 2007 after which the moratorium would take effect.

“It is illogical for the Cites secretariat to turn around and say that the moratorium was not binding on all parties,” said Dr Kipng’etich.

“If we allow the sale to go ahead, the entire West African elephant population will be wiped out in 10 years,” he said.