President Emmerson Mnangagwa has castigated the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) for banning trade on wildlife products saying this has left Zimbabwe sitting on an idle US$600 worth of ivory.
Officiating at the first ever African Union-United Nations Wildlife Economy Summit in Victoria Falls on Monday, President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe can sustainably finance its conservation for two decades if it is allowed to sell off the stocks.
Cites imposed a universal ban on trade in ivory and rhino horns and Mnangagwa says this should stop.
"Zimbabwe subscribes to the founding principles of the Cites and remains committed to the adherence of its protocols and rules.
"However, we are gravely concerned by the one-size-fits all approach where banning of trade is creeping into Cites decision making processes.
"We call upon the institution to resist temptation of being a policing institution and instead be a developmental one which promotes the intricate balance between conservation and sustainable utilisation of all wildlife resources.
"Zimbabwe has about USD$600 million worth of ivory and rhino horns stocks most of which is from natural attrition of those animals. If we are allowed to dispose these, the revenue derived would finance our operational conservation efforts for the next 20 years," said Mnangagwa.
He reiterated his call for free trade in wildlife products saying Zimbabwe, just like other Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (Kaza-TFCA) faces rise in human-wildlife conflict due to high elephant population.
"We will continue to call for free trade in hunting products as these have a positive impact on the national and local economies of our countries," he said.
Conflict between humans and wildlife has caused huge suffering among communities living near game parks who are not benefiting from the wildlife.
As a result, some end up resorting to illegal hunting.
Mnangagwa said his government has put in place, peaceful human-wildlife co-existence and sound conservation principles top of its agenda through promotion of an integrated concept of conservancies.
Kaza countries want to go to Cites COP18 in Geneva in August with a common position to overturn Cites ban.