By CATHERINE NYIRENDA –
ABOUT 11,000 pieces of elephant ivory weighing about 35 tonnes valued at US$ 9.2 million are marooned at the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) office in Chilanga, Parliament has heard.
Tourism and Arts Deputy Minister Patrick Ngoma told the House that Government through ZAWA had a total of 8,585 ivory pieces weighing 34.791 tonnes as of September 2009 to September 2010.
Mr Ngoma said ZAWA further had a total number of 11,220 ivory pieces weighing 46.35 tonnes as at October, 2010 to December 2014.
He said this in response to a question raised by MMD Lumezi Member of Parliament (MP) Isaac Banda, who wanted to know how much ivory was in the custody of ZAWA as of September 2009 to September 2010 and October 2010 to December 2014.
Tourism Minister Jean Kapata, however, told the House that Government had no intentions of selling the ivory because Zambia was a signatory to the convention that bars trading in indigenous species.
Ms Kapata said the elephant ivory was an indigenous species classified in appendix One of the Convention and that member countries were not allowed to sell the ivory.
She said this in Parliament on Wednesday in response to a supplementary question by Mr Banda, who wanted to know if the proceeds from the sell of ivory tasks trickles down to the communities.
“Due to restrictions attached to the convention, an elephant is an indigenous species which as of now it is not possible to sell its ivory,” Ms Kapata said.
She told the House that Government was trying to lobby with other countries to see if the Zambian elephant ivory could be put in class two, to allow Government sell the ivory and utilise the money for other developmental issues.
Ms Kapata also told the House that most of the elephants in Zambia die of natural causes others from animal diseases which lead to ZAWA gunning them down and the rest diminish through rampant poaching.
She said this in response to United Party for National Development (UPND) Lukulu East MP, Christopher Kalila, who wanted to know how the elephants die.
The minister also told the House that Government also donates the ivory tasks to chiefs in the country that need them for traditional purposes, as donations were not restricted.
“We have donated ivory tasks to chiefs such as the Litunga, Chief Chiputa and to Chiti Mukulu of the Bemba speaking people for traditional purposes specifically, the Bemba tradition requires that chiefs are buried in ivory,” she added.