THE Safari Operators' Association of Zimbabwe (Soaz) is awaiting a decision by the United States over an ivory ban which has crippled its operations and severely reduced its revenue base, businessdigest has learnt.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced a suspension on imports of sport-hunted African elephant trophies taken in Tanzania and Zimbabwe during the calendar 2014 year which resulted in business slumping by as much as 30%.
"In Zimbabwe, available data, though limited, indicates a significant decline in the elephant population. Anecdotal evidence, such as the widely publicised poisoning last year of 300 elephants in Hwange National Park, suggests that Zimbabwe's elephants are citing under siege," the organisation said, citing the reason of the ban. "Given the current situation on the ground in both Tanzania and Zimbabwe, the Service is unable to make positive findings required under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) and the Endangered Species Act to allow import of elephant trophies from these countries."
Soaz chairman Emmanuel Fundira told businessdigest recently that they are now awaiting the decision of the USFWS after supplying details they had requested.
"We have gone as far as satisfying their requirements for the information they requested," Fundira said. "We are now awaiting a decision when they meet in the next indaba. We are expecting some form of response from them by the end of June."
He said they are hopeful of a positive outcome after the change in government this year in the United States this year. Donald Trump was elected President on a Republican party ticket replacing Barack Obama who had been elected on a Democratic party ticket.
"Republicans are more pro-sustainable development which is a positive sign for a favourable outcome," he said.
He said business has improved as their efforts to create alternative markets in areas such as Eastern Europe are starting to bear fruit.
Fundira said their optimism that this season will be an improvement from last year buoyed by a favourable outcome of the Cites convention meeting held last year.
There had been an intensive lobby at the convention to have the elephant and the lion removed from Appendix 11, which lists species that are not necessarily now threatened with extinction but that may become so unless trade is closely controlled, to Appendix 1.