DOHA - A bid by Tanzania to sell 80,5 tons of stockpiled ivory to Japan and China was rejected yesterday in Qatar by the UN body that oversees trade in wildlife.
A separate proposal to down-list Tanzania's elephants to a lower level of protection under the 175-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), that met in Doha on Thursday, was also shot down after tense debate.
Stanslaus Komba from Tanzania's ministry of natural resources said: "We are sitting on a treasure that we are not allowed to use to help our population, to help the poor build schools and roads."
Similar measures sought by Zambia will be considered and were expected to be voted on later yesterday.
The Cites secretariat had recommended the rejection of Tanzania's pleas, citing a poor enforcement of poaching and illegal sales domestically.
The bids from both countries come amid renewed poaching of the majestic animals, and a dramatic surge in seizures of illegal ivory in 2009.
Some 25 tons of ivory, culled from an estimated 2600 elephants, were confiscated last year, mainly in Asia, according to wildlife trade monitoring group Traffic.
Except for populations in four southern African nations, African elephants in two dozen other range states are all listed on Cites Appendix I, which bans cross-border trade.
Tanzania sought a down-listing to the less restrictive Appendix II, which allows commerce if it is monitored and deemed sustainable.
The one-time sale would have netted about R96million for Tanzania, said Traffic. Komba said the stock is worth about R148million.
The last such sale took place in 2008 by Botswana, Namibia, SA and Zimbabwe, and set the clock running on a nine-year moratorium on international ivory sales, agreed upon at the last Cites gathering in 2007. - Sapa-AFP