Tanzania yesterday lost its bid to sale part of its ivory stockpile by single vote. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) meeting in Doha, Qatar, rejected the request over Tanzanias alleged failure to check rising incidents of poaching. According to reports from the meeting, Tanzania tried to split its proposal in two downlisting and trade on ivory. On the downlisting proposal, 57 members voted for, while 45 voted against the proposal, with 32 abstaining. On the sales category, 59 voted for while 60 members rejected the proposals and 13 delegates abstained. Apparently after observing Tanzania fail in its application, Zambia decided to withdrew its proposals to sale part of its stockpile and asked for only downlisting on which 55 voted yes, 36 members said no and 40 abstained. The decision may have stemmed from a recent report, released just days before the meeting, which accused Tanzania of illegal trade in ivory. The rejection of Tanzanias requests is a big blow to the government, which was planning to use part of the receipts to improve conservation, according to Natural Resources and Tourism minister Shamsa Mwangunga. Both Tanzania and Zambia proposed selling their ivory stockpiles to raise funds for other important conservation programmes. Tanzania planned to raise at least $15 million (about Sh19.5 billion) from about 90tonnes of ivory. The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a non-profit group based in Washington and London said in its report that Tanzania and Zambia were seeking the lifting of the ban on ivory trade despite intensive elephant poaching and illegal ivory trade in the two countries. The rejection of the proposal was good news to Kenya and six other African countries opposed to requests by Tanzania and Zambia. Yesterdays ruling was also a rare victory for environmentalists at the two-week meeting who had endured defeats ranging from an export ban on Atlantic bluefin tuna to a shark conservation plan to a proposal to regulate of red and pink corals. Tanzanias proposal would have been the third such ivory sale following ones in 1999 and 2008 if its request was granted. Governments made the right decision by rejecting Tanzanias proposals, said Mr Carlos Drews of the World Wildlife Fund adding: It is not the right time to be approving ivory sales due to increased elephant poaching and in central and western Africa. But arguing her case earlier, Ms Mwangunga told delegates that elephant population has risen in the country from about 55,000 in 1989 to almost 137,000, according to a 2007 study. She argued that the elephant population had reached the point where the animals had become a threat as incidents of elephants trampling on crops and killing people were becoming common. Tanzania is committed to conservation of its wildlife including elephants. Should this meeting fail to consider this proposal, we run the risk of enhancing hostility against elephants by our local community especially where human-elephant conflicts are prevalent. More elephants would be killed, she said. But opponents, led by the United States, the European Union and several central and west African, countries argued that Tanzania had not done enough to combat poaching and the illegal trade in ivory. They also wanted more time to assess whether a 2008 ivory sale by Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, Namibia had contributed to the illegal trade. Ivory sales have in recent years been among the most contentious proposals at Cites and this time around African countries, and even some environmental groups, were divided. The ivory would have been sold to China and Japan - the only countries that had asked to purchase it. TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring group, tracks ivory seizures and found that poaching and smuggling to markets, mostly in Asia, have risen steadily since 2004. They blame weak law enforcement in Africa and growing demand for ivory products like chopsticks and ivory jewellery, mostly in China, Thailand and other Asian countries. African elephants have seen their numbers drop in the past 40 years by more than to 600,000 mostly due to poaching. A global ban on the ivory trade in 1989 briefly halted their slide. But conservationists said that poaching now leads to the loss of as many as 60,000 elephants each year. Without intervention, the elephants could be nearly extinct by 2020. A number of local conservatives were also against the governments plan. The chairman of the Zanzibar Association of Tourism Investors (Zati), Mr Mohammed Simani, told The Citizen earlier this month that Tanzanias campaign would impede its efforts to promote tourism, including game viewing in prominent national game reserves like Selous, Serengeti and Ngorongoro. As private investors in tourism, we foresee problems in this push to sell ivory. The choice of our game reserves as preferred destinations by high end tourists from the UK and US will be undermined by campaigns linking the country with elephant killing and smuggling, warned Mr Simani.