The Namibian government has banned domestic trade and export of ivory products, known as omakipas, saying that trade in ivory products, which had all along been conducted without any legislative framework, has to be legislated.
The ministry of environment and tourism said Wednesday that it had banned curio shops and street vendors from selling ivory products with effect from 1 September , adding that traders would now be required to register through the ministry.
The moratorium on trade in worked ivory will be in place until the enactment of the Controlled Wildlife Products Bill, which has already sailed through Cabinet and is going to be debated in parliament during its next session.
Kalumbi Shangula, permanent secretary in the tourism ministry said that the bill would seek comprehensive regulatory and enforcement measures and once enacted, would replace interim measures on the management of omakipas.
“This means that starting 1 September, buying and selling in ivory products in Namibia will be prohibited for the duration of the moratorium,” Shangula said.
Dealers willing to trade, after the moratorium has come to an end, should register with the government, he added.
Government said that of late it had been dealing with new carvings of omakipas from ivory of unknown origin.
“The ministry want to establish a legal trade in omakipas carved from ivory supp lied by the ministry to strengthen control measures within Namibia,” Shangula said.
He added that there were loopholes in the domestic law against the statutes of the CITES which the government now wants to plug.
“The traders are not registered and that is the reason we want to have them operating under a legal framework,” Shangula said.
Louisa Mupetami, deputy director, wildlife utilisation, said that registering vendors would enable authorities to trace the origins of ivory.
Mupetami said that ivory carvings should be produced in collaboration with local communities, government and jewellers and each piece should be certified by the government.
She, however, said that she was not aware of origins of ivory, currently being used in ivory carvings, saying “It must be ivory from pre-convention but government should be the supplier of such ivory.” Panapress.