SA ivory auction raises R59m

Approximately 47 metric tons of stockpiled ivory on auction fetched about US$6,7-million for South Africa's conservation efforts, SA National Parks said on Thursday.

The sale, approved by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), took place in Pretoria and saw 12 Chinese and 22 Japanese buyers bidding for the stockpiles.

The buyers bid off brochures depicting the 63 lots of ivory that the stockpile had been divided into.

This was after they visited the stockpile in the Kruger National Park during a private viewing session on Wednesday.

The average price for the 63 lots on auction was US$142 per kilogram.

Speaking before the auction started SANParks chief executive David Mabunda said the sale would benefit conservation.

“We fully appreciate and embrace our responsibility to ensure that we stamp down on poaching of any kind,” he said.

“We intend to use considerable amounts of the funds we raise today towards increasing our anti-poaching capacity.”

Mabunda said park budgets were under strain and a large portion of the revenue to be raised was earmarked for elephant-related research, general conservation including employment of additional game rangers, anti-poaching measures, and buying more land.

Community development projects, specifically in communities affected by the presence of elephants, would also receive funding.

“Our protected areas are under threat from sophisticated and well-resourced poaching syndicates, and to think that protected areas can contain this scourge without proper resources would be suicidal,” Mabunda said.

Contrary to the claims of detractors, the sale sanctioned by the CITES was not a licence to cull elephants.

He said it would make a considerable contribution to the country’s conservation efforts.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare has opposed the sale, saying the revenue will not be enough to address the problems of poaching.

It was earlier reported that 51 tons had been approved for selling. However these were withdrawn because they were not of good quality or were broken.

CITES secretary general, Willem Wijnstekers, attended the auction as observer.

He said a total of 101 tons of ivory had been auctioned in South Africa Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe, generating a total revenue of approximately US$15-million. – Sapa

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