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Africa urged to quit CITES

Africa urged to quit CITES
Mr Ron Thomson

Mr Ron Thomson

Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe and other African countries have been urged to renounce their membership from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species because the club is not serving them any purpose.

Internationally acclaimed wildlife expert Mr Ron Thomson said the international body had been hijacked by animal rights activists who do not have any knowledge on wildlife conservation.

He said the animal rights activists through their non-governmental organisations were making outrageous decisions detrimental to countries engaging in sustainable wildlife business.

Mr Thomson said the US paid Kenya to burn its ivory stock as a way of setting the agenda for the September COP17.

Mr Thomson’s remarks come in the wake of proposals submitted to COP17 to be held in South Africa in September seeking to up-list elephants and lions into Appendix I of endangered species.

Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction and if the proposals succeeded, Zimbabwe will be banned from international hunting and trading of elephants and lions.

Currently, elephants and lions are in Appendix II where hunting and trading is allowed under CITES regulations.

Zimbabwe had already rejected the proposals ahead of COP17.

In his contribution made during the launch of Zimbabwe’s roadmap to COP17, Mr Thomson, who is also the president of the South Africa- based True Green Alliance, said the destiny of African elephants now lies in the hands of foreigners who have no knowledge or interest in the in best practice elephant management programmes.

“My suggestion to Africa that it has to think very carefully about its continued membership in CITES,” he said.

“If I was a head of state in Africa, I will say let us get out of this club. When CITES was first formed, they said our purpose in CITES is to regulate the wildlife trade and to stop the illegal wildlife trade.

“After 41 years, CITES has not regulated wildlife trade and it has not stopped the illegal trade. So what good is it to anybody? It has achieved nothing. What it has only achieved is to give animal rightists a weapon to fight people like Zimbabwe, South and Namibia and these other countries of Africa who want to utilise their wildlife resources on a sustainable basis.

“What good has it (CITES) done us? No good at all. Foreign people who know nothing about Africa and its wildlife are telling Africa what it can do with its elephants, rhinos and all these animals.”

Mr Thomson dismissed the notion of endangered species touted by America and a host of its NGOs said wildlife is managed by population and not at species level.

He said wildlife rules applied in West Africa could not be applicable in Southern Africa.

“You can only manage it at the population level. Rules have to be applied population by population. If there is a problem in West Africa there should be a rule that applies in that particular region and the whole of Africa.

“Nobody is thinking about the habitats and that is very wrong. We must have independence of thought and accountability. We are accountable of what happens to animals here and not CITES,” he said.

On the burnt Kenyan ivory stock, Mr Thomson said: “Kenya was given an outright grant of $150 million to restructure Kenya’s tourism industry. That was followed by another $150 million which is being spread over the next 10 years.”

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