Citing an international meet

Another international meet fails to address the concerns of local poor people and follows the path shown by global bullies

Published: Wednesday 31 May 2000

An international meet of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species ( cites ) of wild flora and fauna, held recently in Nairobi with over 2,500 delegates from 150 countries attending saw Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe buckle under pressure from India and Kenya and agree to delay the sale of their stocked ivory for atleast two years. India and Kenya had also earlier greatly opposed the move to downlist the populations of elephants in these countries to allow limited trading in ivory in 1997.

But the four countries in question have a very good track record in managing their elephant populations. In fact claims made by Kenya and India that poaching has increased since trade was allowed are disputable. A total ban on ivory was imposed in India as early as 1976 yet the number of poaching instances had not shown any sign of decline.

Countries like South Africa claim that there has been no increase in poaching specially due to the strict control measures that were imposed once trading had commenced. Instead it had resulted in the introduction of conservation based community development programmes like campfire and the Chobe enclave conservation trust of Botswana under which communities had earned revenues to nurture their wildlife resources.

But India's stand tells us one thing. The government is basically hypocritical. On the one hand it violently opposed the use of restrictions on trade in wto, but in cites it pushed for these same measures.

India's stand on cites makes a mockery of its position on the wto . Because the principles it is supporting in cites are thus. Firstly that international trade bans are a good way for the global community to ensure that some countries manage their environment better.

Secondly that international trade bans, a weapon that can be used by the rich nations against the poor and never by the poor nations against the rich is an acceptable and moral way to improve global environment management.

By accepting the pressure of India and Kenya and the Northern countries the world is listening to those who have failed to protect their animals. When we should be following the example set by South Africa and Botswana and Zimbabwe, we have decided to follow the path shown by international bullies instead. A sad state of affairs indeed.

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