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I. Identification

1. The Issue

A large sector of Zimbabwe's population lives on unproductive communal lands created by Europeans in the early half of the century. Currently, five million Zimbabweans live on communal lands unreliable for crop production. A majority of these communal lands happen to be excellent habitat for Zimbabwe's wildlife, especially the African elephant. This situation has caused intense competition for resources between the elephant and native Zimbabweans.

The Communal Areas Management Program for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) program seeks to empower rural communities for conservation and sustainable development through harvesting natural resources. A majority of CAMPFIRE profits come from leasing trophy hunting concessions to foreign hunters. Foreign hunters who come to Zimbabwe pay large fees to hunt elephants, buffaloes, giraffe, lion, kudu and other wild animals. Over 60% of profits from CAMPFIRE are derived from elephant hunts.

Hunters primarily come to Zimbabwe from the United States, England, Germany and Japan. The United States accounts for 90% of the hunters using the CAMPFIRE program. Although district councils working with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management determine the quota for sustainable elephant harvesting, CAMPFIRE has come under criticism from Western environmental groups for being unsustainable, threatening the extinction of the African elephant. Proponents of the CAMPFIRE program disagree with Western organizations that condemn its sustainablilty. CAMPFIRE proponents point out that Zimbabwe has too many elephants, and that Western groups care more about the African elephant than African people.

The 1989 decision to ban all trade in ivory and ivory products has impacted CAMPFIRE by limiting the sale of ivory from elephant kills. Currently, CAMPFIRE has stockpiles of ivory in Zimbabwe. If the ban on ivory were to be reversed, ivory would be a significant source of revenue for the CAMPFIRE program.

2. Description


When Cecil Rhodes colonized the area that is now Zimbabwe in the 1890's, Africans were forced to live in the most agriculturally unproductive areas of the country. Productive land was reserved only for the colonists. When the National Parks were established in Zimbabwe in the early part of the century, rural communities were once again forced to leave land they had lived on for generations, exacerbating the extreme land inequity. In addition, Zimbabweans were banned from killing wild animals. Even though harvesting wild animals had been a part of Zimbabwean culture for centuries, it became illegal to kill many of the animals they had depended on for food, clothing, tools and ritual practices.

After the creation of the National Parks, wild animals destroyed food crops and posed a threat to local communities. It is not surprising that rural farmers found themselves in competition with elephants, whereas in the past they had generally lived in harmony with them. In 1989, CAMPFIRE was founded to improve relationships between rural Zimbabweans and their environment to create sustainability. CAMPFIRE provided incentives to Zimbabweans to preserve wild animals and utilize them as a valuable natural resources. In many instances, CAMPFIRE has changed the relationship between Zimbabweans and their environment.

How CAMPFIRE operates

CAMPFIRE generates profits for local communities through a number of different activities. Primarily, CAMPFIRE profits are generated through leasing trophy hunting concessions to foreign hunters. As mentioned earlier, 60% of CAMPFIRE's profits are derived from elephant hunts. Profits also are generated through harvesting natural products such as antelope and crocodile eggs.

CAMPFIRE is operated on communal lands, home to 42% of Zimbabwe’s poorest citizens. Revenues from the program are used to provide schools, electricity, clean water, road building and grinding mills for maize. It has been estimated by the World Wildlife Fund that households participating in CAMPFIRE increased their incomes by 15-25%.

Criticism of CAMPFIRE

The picture to the left shows the result of an elephant kill. Criticism of the campfire program has come primarily from Western Non-Governmental Organizations such as the Humane Society who oppose hunting African elephants under the CAMPFIRE program. The environmental groups who oppose CAMPFIRE have serious problems with killing elephants and other wild animals for use as an economic resource. Other environmental groups claim that the elephant population in Zimbabwe is not doing well enough for hunting to take place.

Groups that support the CAMPFIRE program argue that harvesting elephants is sustainable and appropriate wildlife management. They claim that Western groups do not have the right to mandate what they can and cannot do with their wildlife. Proponents of CAMPFIRE argue that Westerners do not understand the complexities of the wildlife management in Zimbabwe, and place the protection of the elephant before the needs of rural Zimbabweans.


Unsustainable trade in wildlife has caused the extinction of many species. In order to combat unsustainable trade in wildlife, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora was created in July 1975. Regulation of wildlife trade under CITES falls into three appendices: I, II, and II. Appendix I bans commercial trade in species that are in danger of extinction. Appendix II controls the trade of species through a system of quotas. Appendix III contains lists of countries where trade in particular species is regulated.

It is largely agreed that the demand for ivory caused a decline of the African elephant in the 1970's and 1980's. This decline in the African elephant population caused the member countries of CITES to assign the African elephant the highest level of protection - to be listed under Appendix I. Because the African Elephant was listed in Appendix I, all trade in ivory products was banned.

Even though the elephant population overall decreased in the 1970's and 1980's, the decline did not occur in all African countries. In fact, in Zimbabwe the elephant population doubled. Due to the increase in the elephant population in Zimbabwe, the government has heavily opposed the ban on ivory trade.

In June 1997, in Harare, Zimbabwe, the signatory countries to the CITES convention agreed to a one time only sale of ivory to Japan in 1999 from Botswana Namibia and Zimbabwe. The quotas allowed for each country are 25.3 tons for Botswana, 13.8 tons for Namibia and 20 tons for Zimbabwe. If CAMPFIRE stockpiles are sold within Zimbabwe's quota, rural Zimbabweans could benefit by receiveing funds for development projects such as schools, water sanitation and health care.

Related Web cites and information

Conserving Africa's elephants

The ivory trade: to ban or not to ban?

Ivory interactive

CAMPFIRE and development


Zimbabwe appeals to sell ivory stocks

Ivory Trade in Zimbabwe's Historical Context

Ivory Trade in Asia

3. Related Cases

ELEPHANT: Ivory Trade Ban

IVORY: CITES Liberalizes Elephant Ivory Trade

NILECROC: Nile Crocodiles and Trade

RHINO: Rhino Horn Trade Ban

RHINOBLK: Black Rhinos and Trade

UGANDA: Uganda Tourism

ZAMBIA: Zambia Wildlife Trade

ELEBOT: Botswana, Elephants and Legal Ivory Trade

4. Draft Author (and Date):

Amanda Hilligas, 1999

II. Legal Cluster

5. Discourse and Status:

AGReement and COMPlete

6. Forum and Scope:

Zimbabwe and UNILATERAL

7. Decision Breadth:

Zimbabwe and UNILATERAL

8. Legal Standing:


III. Geographic Cluster

9. Geographic Locations

a. Geographic Domain: AFRICA

b. Geographic Site: Southern Africa (SAFR)

c. Geographic Impact: Zimbabwe

10. Sub-National Factors:

11. Type of Habitat:


IV. Trade Cluster

12. Type of Measure:

Import Ban (IMPBAN)

13. Direct v. Indirect Impacts:


14. Relation of Trade Measure to Environmental Impact

a. Directly Related to Product: Yes, Ivory

b. Indirectly Related to Product: No

c. Not Related to Product: No

d. Related to Process: Yes, Species Land Loss (SPLL)

15. Trade Product Identification:


Photo is copyright of World Wide Fund for Nature published in "Conserving Africa's Elephants: Current Issues and Priorities for Action"

Elephants have been killed for thier ivory for hundreds of years. Even before colonists came to the region, it has been reported that some African tribes hunted elephants until they were extinct. Beginning in the 1970's the demand for ivory increased significantly due to its increase in price. The WWF reports that exports rose from 200 tons in the 1950's to nearly 1,000 tons in the 1980's. The increase in the ivory trade was a significant factor in the decrease of the African elephant.

The dominant market for ivory is East Asia, especially Japan. In Japan, ivory is used to make hankos which are name seals that are used instead of signatures. Hankos are used to formalize business and banking documents.

The illegal shipment of ivory from African countries is difficult to monitor. From 1989 through 1992, Japanese law enforcement authorities siezed 12 shipments of raw and semi-worked ivory blocks. In 1997, siezures in Japan included 13,800 semi-worked ivory blocks from Singapore.

Countries exporting ivory from 1979-87

Country exports in tons
Burundi 488
Botswana 58
Chad 111
Central African Republic 1,136
Cameroon 28
Kenya 131
Namibia 37
Somalia 105
South Africa 329
Sudan 1,452
Tanzania 653
Uganda 424
Zambia 149
Zimbabwe 94
Source: Wildlife Trade Monitoring Unit, London Environmental Economics Center

16. Economic Data

CAMPFIRE profits rose from $327,621 in 1989 to over $1.4 million in 1993. CAMPFIRE has been rapidly expanding, and with the lift of the ban on ivory trade from Zimbabwe to Japan, CAMPFIRE stands to gain even more economic profit from its programs. Currently, CAMPFIRE stockpiles ivory with the hope that the ivory ban will be lifted in the future. To CAMPFIRE proponents, the limited ivory sale to Japan is a positive sign.

Sectoral spending for CAMPFIRE is as follows:

80% of wildlife monies is given to local communities. The communities then decide collectively how to spend the money. 20% goes to District Councils for management of CAMPFIRE areas.

17. Impact of Trade Restriction:


African ivory exports were banned in 1989 by the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species)treaty. This ban on ivory exports was instituted due to the fact that half of Africa's 1.3 million elephants were wiped out due to poaching. The ban was opposed by Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswna due to their large herds of elephants.

Japan was selected by Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia because it has a traditional domestic market for ivory supplied by legally imported ivory prior to the 1990 ban on ivory trade. The re­export of worked ivory products to other destinations from Japan is prohibited.

Asian destinations of ivory seizures in kilos
Country 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 Total
Taiwan * * 158 854 465 4,738 881 243 7,339
Japan * 2,207 1,069 372 * * * * 3,648
China * * * 688 * 166 * 1,032 1,886
Hong Kong 673 759 127 218 * * * * 1,777
South Korea 127 897 149 79 457 * * * 1,709
Singapore 558 169 184 * 447 * * * 1,358
Thailand * * * 468 400 226 * * 1,094
*=Data not available

Source: TRAFFIC Bad Ivory Database System

Zimbabwe has applied for compensation from the WTO for the loss it its international ivory markets. Economists estimate that Zimbabwe has lost up to $5 million due to the ban on ivory. In the unlikely event that the WTO would compensate Zimbabwe for lost markets, CAMPFIRE would benefit, as its stockpiled ivory remains unsold.

18. Industry Sector:


19. Exporters and Importers:

Zimbabwe and Japan

V. Environment Cluster

20. Environmental Problem Type:

Land Species Loss (SPLL)

21. Name, Type, and Diversity of Species

African Elephant

Elephant Numbers By Country

Country 1981 1989
Zaire 376,000 103,000
Central African Republic 31,000 27,000
Congo 10,800 25,000
Gabon 13,400 92,000
Kenya 65,000 18,000
Tanzania 203,900 75,000
Sudan 133,700 21,000
Botswana 20,000 58,000
South Africa 8,000 8,200
Zambia 160,000 45,000
Zimbabwe 47,000 49,000
Source: African Elephant and Rhino Specialist Group

When the African elephants are hunted, the older elephants are killed first because they have the largest tusks. Ivory tusks today are smaller than those on the market a number of years ago. Killing animals with smaller tusks leads to killing a larger number of animals to satisfy demand. The result has been a larger number of orphaned young elephants, breaking down the social structure of the herds.

22. Resource Impact and Effect:


23. Urgency and Lifetime:


24. Substitutes:


VI. Other Factors

25. Culture:


The significance of ivory products in Asian culture such as hankos in Japan is high. The production of hankos in Africa is on the rise, and according to a recent report, Asian-run ivory processing businesses are operating in at least 12 African countries.

26. Trans-Boundary Issues:


27. Rights:


28. References

a. Words

Alder, Joseph. "Should Heads Keep Rolling in Africa?." Science 255/6 March, p1206-1207.

"A Door is Reopened to the Ivory Trade." U.S. News and World Report. 122: June 30, 1997 p4.

Sugal, Cheri, "Elephants of southern Africa must now pay their way." WorldWatch. Vol. 10, (September 1997) pp. 9.

"Still in Business: The Ivory Trade in Asia, Seven Years After the CITES Ban" http://www.trafic.org/publications/summaries/summary_ivorytrade.htm

b. Graphics

Photo of ivory tusks is copyright of World Wide Fund for Nature published in "Conserving Africa's Elephants: Current Issues and Priorities for Action"

Panoramic photo of elephants is courtesy of Paul MacKenzie's webcite: Elephant Information Repository

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