Namibia raised eyebrows yesterday when it banned the media and observers from a once-off ivory auction held under the auspices of the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), according to a report in Business Day.


No explanation was given for the news blackout.

Newspaper The Namibian said the environment ministry had kept the auction under wraps and quoted sources as saying Chinese and Japanese bidders had arrived in Windhoek on Sunday to view the ivory stocks.

Yesterday, in the first of four sales, $1,1m was raised in the sale of 7,2 tons of ivory, the first lot of a total 106 tons on offer.

At the 14th Cites conference held in the Netherlands last year, Namibia was permitted to sell nine tons of ivory, Botswana 44 tons, SA 51 tons and Zimbabwe four tons. Cit es attached “strict conservation measures” to the concession.

Namibia had its auction yesterday, Botswana will have its tomorrow and Zimbabwe and SA would have theirs on November 3 and 6 respectively. It is a once-off sale, with the next due in nine years.

Between March and April, the Cites s ecretariat visited the four countries and verified that the declared ivory stocks had been properly registered and that they were of legal origin.

The previous ivory auction held in Windhoek raised $5m.

The Namibian said that an official told the International Association for Animal Welfare two weeks ago that the environment ministry would refuse it observer status.

Click here to read the full report, posted on Business Day's website.