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Monday, 22 November, 1999, 12:52 GMT
Surge in Zimbabwe elephant poaching
Tourists can now buy ivory in Zimbabwe

By Joseph Winter in Harare

There has been a dramatic upsurge in elephant poaching in Zimbabwe, one of the countries allowed to sell ivory stocks earlier this year.

Since it began the sales, Zimbabwe's Government has not commented on how many elephants have been killed by poachers.

But the new figures come from the country's state-owned newspaper, the Herald, and so can be treated as semi-official. The paper says that in Chewore National Park, 84 elephants have been killed this year - 31 of them in the past fortnight.

Animal rights groups say authorising ivory sales promotes poaching
This news will cause dismay in Zimbabwe and its southern African neighbours which are campaigning for the right to sell ivory.

Trade in ivory was banned 10 years ago after poaching decimated elephant populations in much of Africa.

But in April this year, three countries which had managed to preserve their elephant herds, sold their ivory stocks to Japan on an experimental basis.

Zimbabwe earned around $2.5m by selling 20 tonnes of elephant tusks which were supposed to have been used for conservation and to help local communities.

Treaty under review

In May next year, the body which oversees the trade in endangered species, CITES, will review its decision to lift the ban on the sale of ivory.

Animal rights campaigners have warned that allowing any trade in ivory would trigger a rise in poaching, threatening the survival of the world's largest land animal.

Rather bizarrely, Zimbabwe is suggesting that this upsurge in poaching is being organised by animal rights groups to strengthen their argument that the ivory trade should be banned once more.

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See also:
31 Jul 99 |  Africa
Kenya seizes large ivory stash
16 Jul 99 |  Africa
Japan imports African ivory
09 Feb 99 |  Sci/Tech
Shoot an elephant, save a species
10 Feb 99 |  Sci/Tech
Ivory ban lifted
10 Feb 99 |  Sci/Tech
The allure of ivory
24 Aug 99 |  Africa
Kenya seizes ivory poachers

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