THE National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority is sitting on 44 tonnes of ivory worth US$10 million it cannot sell
due to an indefinite ban on the sale of the commodity by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
Addressing journalists and travel agents from the United Kingdom who are in the country to appreciate Zimbabwe's wildlife management yesterday, National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority director general, Mr Vitalis Chadenga said he was appealing to CITES to lift the ban.
"As National Parks we operate under the CITES. That convention at the moment has suspended trade in all endangered species.
"At the moment there is no trade in ivory and even if we get a buyer we cannot sell the ivory," he said.
Mr Chadenga said the last approved sale of ivory by CITES was in 2008 when they disposed only five tonnes of ivory to China and Japan.
He said they had another stock- pile of five tonnes of rhino horns, which they could not also sell at the moment.
Mr Chadenga said he was not aware of the exact price of rhino horns per kilogramme since they were not trading.
However, industry officials suggested that one kilogramme of rhino horn was in the range of between US$250 000 and US$300 000.
Mr Chadenga urged other countries to lobby for the lifting of the ban.
"Until we convince CITES to lift that moratorium, we remain stuck with these tonnes of ivory.
"We will continue to lobby other countries to fight the suspension," he said.
For the suspension to be lifted, Mr Chadenga said, it required two-thirds majority vote of member states attending a CITES meeting.
Mr Chadenga told the UK delegation that the illegal sanctions imposed on the country were affecting their operations.
"Because of the sanctions regime we are not getting money from the international community to fund our operations.
"Other countries are getting funding to implement the Great Limpopo Trans-Frontier Park. We need infrastructure and equipment to run our operations.
"The issue of sanctions in a politically neutral area like wildlife management is really of concern to us," he said.
Some members of the visiting UK delegation claimed that the decline in the number of the rhino population was a result of poaching by some senior Zanu-PF officials.
However, Mr Chadenga said: "As National Parks, this year we have only lost 11 rhinos and South Africa has lost 300 rhinos.
"How can you explain that big loss in South Africa? Is there Zanu-PF in South Africa as well?"
Mr Chadenga said the country had made notable progress in reducing poaching.
He said a combination of efforts by law enforcement agencies had reduced levels of poaching significantly.