Members / Projects / Perspectives

Tanzania Requests Permission to Engage in Ivory Sale

Photo © Matt Kareus

The next Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meeting is scheduled for March 3-14, 2013, and the deadline for countries to submit proposals to make changes to the lists of protected species was midnight on October 4th.  As that deadline approached, there were fears that several African countries would submit proposals to resume trade in ivory and rhino horn.  In the end, Tanzania was the only country to do so.

Tanzania has requested that its elephant population be transferred from Appendix I to Appendix II status.  Species listed as Appendix I are considered threatened with extinction, and CITES prohibits international commercial trade in specimens of these species.  An Appendix II designation means that a species isn’t immediately facing the threat of extinction, but it could unless trade is tightly controlled.

The Tanzanian government has made this request with several purposes in mind.  It has requested permission to engage in trade in hunting trophies for non-commercial purposes.  It has also expressed the desire to hold a one-off ivory auction of 101,005 kg (approx. 223,000 lbs) of government-held ivory stocks.  Its proposal stipulates that the stocks sold will exclude seized ivory and ivory of questionable origin, that it will be sold only to countries that CITES has determined “as having sufficient national legislation and domestic trade controls to ensure that the imported ivory will not be re-exported” (only Japan and China currently meet that requirement), and that the proceeds from the sale will be used exclusively for elephant conservation and community conservation and development programs in or near the range of elephants in Tanzania.

A proposal must have the support of a two-thirds majority of the 176 CITES member states in order to pass.  Click here to see a list of all the submitted proposals and read the full draft of Tanzania’s request.