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Ivory Stocks Pile Up

  • Thursday, May 1, 1997

The existence of legitimate ivory stockpiles held by African governments represents a growing challenge to the eight-year-old CITES ban on international trade in elephant ivory.

Stocks are increasing as a result of the natural mortality of elephants, population management (such as shooting problem elephants for crop raiding) and confiscations of contraband ivory. The existence of this potential resource in countries facing major economic problems and needing more funding for conservation has become a mounting source of pressure to reopen trade in ivory. The problem is expected to intensify as stocks of ivory continue to accumulate, particularly in countries with good management, law enforcement and reliable accountability for their stockpiles. Reportedly, the largest stockpile is 86 tons in Burundi, which, ironically, has no elephants. Mozambique is reported to have 80 tons, South Africa 70 tons, Tanzania 52 tons, Zimbabwe 31 tons and Namibia 26 tons. Even Kenya, which burned its ivory stockpiles in 1989 and again in 1995 in support of the ivory ban, has over 5 tons.

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