I quite often find myself disagreeing with some of @optig’s at times decidedly hard line views, however in this case he does have a point.
While the ivory trade remains rightly in my view illegal this ivory cannot be sold it therefore has no economic value to Tanzania and storing it is a financial burden to the country, you can’t just lock it in storeroom and walk away. It is has to be kept in a facility that can be securely guarded against theft, you need to ensure that local criminals can’t break in and steal it and that it won’t mysteriously disappear as is wont to happen.
The following is from a 2014 article in the Independent debating the issue of what to do with ivory stockpiles.
Seizures of illegal ivory are at record levels. Storing high-value contraband goods is expensive, and a financial burden to countries struggling to find resources to combat the crime that results in confiscation. Tanzania, at the epicentre of the poaching crisis, spends over $100,000 a year on securing its stockpiles, which have grown to massive proportions over the past three decades.
Stockpiles provide temptation and opportunity for corrupt officials to “leak” ivory on to the market: Mozambique and Zambia have “lost” tons of ivory from strong rooms – in the case of Zambia, through the air-conditioning unit. The Philippines cited this enforcement challenge as one of their primary reasons for disposing of all their ivory last year, having lost almost a ton from their “secure” strong room.
Debate: Should ivory stockpiles be destroyed?
If that figure of $100,000 is really accurate then I would suggest that destroying these stockpiles is a reasonable course of action, rather than carrying on wasting money storing them given that the ivory trade won’t be legalised.
It was for reasons of cost and the fact that ivory has disappeared from stockpiles in neighbouring countries, that Malawi recently burnt its ivory stockpile, they didn’t want to go on wasting money storing it and have rangers tied up guarding the stockpile when they should be out in the bush protecting wildlife. Or find that much of the ivory supposedly being guarded has leaked out and been sold illegally. Furthermore the ivory they were storing was seized illegal tusks which cannot ever be sold under CITES rules, so even if the trade were eventually legalised they could not sell this ivory. I should just say that’s according to the following article from a Malawian paper I haven’t checked as to exactly what the CITES rules are, but I've no reason to doubt that this is correct.
Doing wildlife justice to Malawi’s ivory stockpile
This is I believe what could be called a catch 22 because yes obviously if you burn stockpiles it risks putting up the price of ivory encouraging further poaching, but at the same time why should poor countries waste money storing ivory that has no economic value.
I am not personally arguing that burning ivory is the right thing to do (I'm undecided) I'm simply pointing out that there are valid arguments for burning stockpiles.
@douglaswise Of course you believe that the solution to this predicament is to legalise the sale of ivory but I don’t wish to debate that point at the moment, I'll just say that it won’t happen or not any time soon.
Edited by inyathi, 15 May 2017 - 06:51 PM.