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BBC's East Africa correspondent Cathy Jenkins
"The debate will be no less emotional in two years time"
 real 28k

Monday, 17 April, 2000, 16:51 GMT 17:51 UK
Two-year freeze on ivory trade
Masai man and anti-poaching poster
Kenya wanted the ivory ban restored
African nations have agreed a compromise deal which will delay ivory sales for at least two years.

The deal, reached at a meeting in Nairobi, puts off trading in ivory until an effective system is in place to prevent the widespread poaching of elephants.

The decision was taken by delegates to a meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

It was immediately welcomed by the conservation group the World Wildlife Fund.

Four southern African countries - Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe - had wanted a limited trade in ivory obtained from herd cullings, or from elephants which have died naturally.

Elephants decimated

But Kenya, whose herds were decimated by poaching in the 1980s, and India opposed this.

Kenya said that a one-off sale of ivory allowed by the last CITES meeting led to an increase in elephant poaching.

The countries that wanted to resume trade said the proceeds of the sales could be used to help elephant conservation.

The pro-trade countries were supported by Japan, the recipient of last year's one-off sale, which consisted of 54 tonnes of ivory.

Intense lobbying

The compromise, which follows days of intense behind-the-scenes lobbying, came just as the debate leading to the vote was due to begin.

The southern African countries withdrew their request to resume ivory sales now, in return for the possibility of resuming them at some future date.

They can still trade in live elephants and their hides.

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See also:

04 Apr 00 | Africa
Ivory trade: Horns of a dilemma
05 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
'Torture chamber' agony of China's bears
10 Feb 99 | Sci/Tech
Ivory ban lifted
09 Feb 99 | Sci/Tech
Shoot an elephant, save a species
08 Sep 99 | Africa
A jumbo-sized dilemma in Zambia
16 Jul 99 | Africa
Japan imports African ivory
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