IUCN congress postponed

Sifelani Tsiko Agric, Environment & Innovations Editor

The World Conservation Congress of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which was expected to be held in January next year in Marseille, France, has been postponed owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Host France and the IUCN both agreed on the postponement and said new dates would be set in due course for both the Members’ Assembly and the Forum components of the congress.

At its 100th meeting on 14 September, the IUCN council decided that some decisions of the members’ assembly, such as on the IUCN programme and the financial plan 2021-24, which are normally taken during Congress, will be voted upon electronically by the Union’s membership.

Zimbabwe and other Sadc countries, now facing ecological disasters as a result of elephant overpopulation, regularly take on elephant conservationists at the African Elephant Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission demanding permission to be allowed to sell their stockpile of ivory to raise money for conservation.

Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority estimate the country’s decades-old stockpile of ivory to be worth up to US$300 million, which it argues would help plug funding gaps for game conservation operations.

The proposal has often put Zimbabwe and its allies on a collision course with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which prohibits the sale of ivory to curb poaching.

Southern African nations including Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia have for years been battling the global wildlife trade regulator to grant them rights to sell ivory acquired through natural deaths, confiscations and culling.

The countries are home to the world’s largest elephant population.

The big herds, faced with shrinking forest cover and human encroachment of their corridors, venture into human settlements looking for food and attack those who try to stop them.

This has led to the unending death and injury among local communities living in areas adjacent to game sanctuaries.

Zimbabwe and most other Sadc countries have not benefited substantially from the wildlife resource due to CITES ban on ivory trade.

Zimbabwe is sitting on another $300 million in its rhino horn stockpile.

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