What would India do if tiger conservation became a resounding success, but man-tiger conflict increased exponentially? Five African nations are facing a similar challenge. Conservation efforts have seen the number of African elephants swell within their territories, and now they are facing a backlash from the people who share the elephants’ habitat. Rural populations in Botswana, Zimbawe, Zambia, Namibia together, home to 60% of the African elephant population and Angola want their governments to secure their lives and property from marauding elephants. The rare conservation success must be read with the fact that the pachyderm is still classified as vulnerable by the IUCN and faces extinction in many nations east African nations lost 111,000 in 2006-2016 to poaching.
The five nations are in a meeting in Botswana since last Friday to discuss concrete interventions . As per a Bloomberg report, ivory stockpiles are also on the agenda. Botswana, Zimbawe and Namibia are lobbying with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna to get approval. Zimbawe and South Africa were the last to receive such approval, in 2008, for a one-time only sale of their stockpiles to China, but given ivory sales encouraged demand and led to poaching, there is overwhelming support for moratorium on ivory trade. The five nations say that the populations are becoming too large for them to sustain in Botswana, it is over 160,000 today, up from 55,000 in 1991 and the people who live alongside the animals should be allowed to benefit from them. But, once the floodgates are opened, there is no controlling what comes after. If ivory trade is allowed for these nations, countries like India will find it difficult to protect their elephant populations, with illegal ivory being whitewashed in African trade.