Officially opening the African Union-United Nations Wildlife Business Summit in the resort town of Victoria Falls on Monday, Mnangagwa revealed that Zimbabwe was sitting on huge stockpiles of ivory and rhino horns valued at more than US$600 million.
"Currently Zimbabwe has about US$600 million worth of ivory and rhino horns stocked, most of which is from natural attrition of those animals,” Mnangagwa told delegates to the summit who included some heads of state.
He said the lifting of the ban on trade in elephant tasks and rhino horns would go a long way in assisting in wildlife conservation efforts as well as benefitting communities that live in areas that border national parks.
“This resonates with our renewed effort to ensure that our citizens benefit from the sustainable management of natural resources and wildlife.
“Thriving wildlife resources have a tremendous potential to be instrumental in sustainable socio-economic development through associated wildlife-oriented businesses such as ecotourism, hunting and photographic safaris, among other benefits,” the Zimbabwean leader said.
Southern African countries such as Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe have contested the total ban on ivory trade, arguing that a controlled marketing system is the way forward as an embargo fuels illegal activities in the absence of a legal market.
The countries have contended that proponents of the global ban do not take into consideration the aspirations of southern Africa where local communities still deserve to derive benefits from the sustainable utilisation of their natural resources, including through sale of ivory stockpiles.