Kenya Seeks US Congress Help in Ending Ivory Trade

Recovered Ivory and Weapons from Poachers

Nairobi,Kenya 9th Feb,2010 – Kenya’s campaign against trade in elephant ivory moved into top gear  when a Kenya Wildlife Service senior scientist left for Washington DC to testify about wildlife issues before a US Congress committee. Kenya Wildlife Services Head of Species Conservation and Management, Patrick Omondi Kenya will tomorrow present before the US congress a Memorandum to urge the Congressmen to support Kenyan government end trade in elephant ivory especially from Tanzania and Zambia who are supporting the trade which Kenya see as a move by the two countries to sabotage its tourism industry which depends on it small herd of elephants.

The House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife will on Thursday hold the oversight hearing on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) as part of the American government’s preparations for next month’s CITES meeting. Kenya and Mali, who have opposed Tanzania and Zambia stance, are continuing with consultations with other foreign missions in an efforts to protect the African elephant and have already secured the backing of 16 countries in the continent who are members of the African Elephant Coalition (AEC) during their last meeting in Brussels last month.

They include; Mali, Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo, Republic of Congo and Government of Southern Sudan.  Tanzania and Zambia on the other hand are banking on the support of range countries from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to have clearance to offload its stockpile. But the European Union, with a, membership of 27 in the 175-member CITES is expected to tip the scales in the battle that pits neighbours Kenya and Tanzania. Kenya wants the current nine-year ivory trade moratorium, negotiated in 2007 in The Hague be increased to 20 years as well as a plea to CITES members to reject the proposals from Tanzania and Zambia. The agreement was negotiated by Germany that held the CITES presidency at the time. The rotating presidency is now with Spain, also a member of the EU.

Kenya argues that since the CITES-approved one-off sales in 2008 by Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe the level of poaching has gone up drastically. In 2009, 232 elephants were killed by poachers up from 145 in 2008 and 47 in 2007 within Kenya.Tanzania and Zambia have exploited a loophole in drafting the text of the agreement that only barred Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe from submitting proposals until 2017.

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