It was learned that Tanzania has broken ranks with its East African neighbors over the ban of trade in ivory products, which was introduced under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) rules to protect the species.
Southern African states have periodically asked, and at times obtained, a dispensation for the sale of legal ivory stocks, but this was every single time followed by a sharp increase in poaching in Eastern Africa, from where then allegedly the ivory was smuggled into those very Southern African states to integrate it into the so-called legal stocks.
This is, however, is now becoming ever more difficult as DNA analysis is also used to establish the origins of ivory, as seen more recently in South Asia, where several consignments were nabbed by customs in Bangkok, Singapore and Vietnam and traced to where the elephant slaughter took place in spite of efforts by the smugglers to conceal the real country of origin.
The breaking of ranks by Tanzania is viewed as a slap in the face of East African conservation efforts, with the other states opposing any such sale, and most notably Kenya at one stage rather burning tens of tons of ivory to make a public statement against poaching and trading in animal products.
Sources in Tanzania claim their change of mind is necessitated by a lack of funds for anti-poaching and conservation measures and that the proceeds of an auction could find their way into the coffers of the wildlife managers. However, without any firm and enforceable commitment being tabled at this moment in time that those funds would indeed exclusively be used for conservation measures.
Several ivory smugglers were recently nabbed in Dar es Salaam, while trying to ship ivory out of the country to presumable China, where the greed and hunger for ivory goes on unabated, fueling the increase in poaching in Africa.
The attempt to have this sanctioned at the next CITES meeting has been met with both disbelief by conservationists as well as protests by members of the tourism trade, who fear that, according to information sent would discredit Tanzania as a tourist destination and give the impression that poaching for ivory is unstoppable after admitting to a lack of funds and resources for anti poaching measures.