UN to supervise ivory auction
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A rare sale of African ivory, normally a strictly prohibited trade, will take place in southern Africa under UN supervision. The 180 tonnes of raw ivory were taken from elephants that died of natural causes.
A rare sale of African ivory will be held under United Nations auspices over the next two weeks, with proceeds to be used for conservation purposes, officials said on Monday.
The sales will take place in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, with only China and Japan permitted to buy.
Africa's elephants are protected species and cross-border trade in their ivory tusks is generally prohibited.
But signatories of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) last year gave the four southern African states special permission to sell a combined total of 108 tonnes of raw ivory from elephants that died of natural causes or were killed in population-management programmes.
CITES Secretary-General Willem Wijnstekers will be on the spot to "supervise closely" the closed-door transactions.
The first sale will take place in Namibia on Tuesday, with the second in Botswana on Oct. 31, CITES said. Dates for the South African and Zimbabwean sales, not open to reporters or the public, will be announced later.
The two Asian nations, traditional users of ivory, were approved to buy after showing they could fight illegal domestic trade in the material used mainly in jewellery and carvings.
Wijnstekers will hold talks on the margins of the auctions with officials from both countries about how CITES will monitor trade controls "to ensure that unscrupulous traders do not take this opportunity to sell ivory of illegal origin".
Cash raised in the one-off auctions must be used to fund programmes for nature conservation and community development projects in the areas the four countries say rising elephant populations have caused problems for local farmers.
Last week the Internet auctioneer eBay Inc. said it would institute a global ban on the sale of ivory products after a conservation group found 4,000 illegal elephant ivory listings on its site. The company already prohibits cross-border sales of ivory and items made from other endangered or protected species.
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