Lusaka - Zambia is considering destroying its ivory worth millions of dollars because it is becoming "too costly" to maintain the government's stockpile, tourism minister Given Lubinda said on Wednesday.
Zambia has appealed to international regulator - the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) - to allow it to sell part of its stock, saying the money would be used for conservation.
"We may be forced to destroy it should next year's CITES meeting not allow us to sell the stockpile," Lubinda said in an interview.
Zambia said in a 2010 CITES filing the wild elephant population in its borders is large at about 27,000 animals, with about two-thirds of its ivory stock of over 30 tonnes coming from animals that died of natural causes.
Since then, it has lost about 3 tonnes of ivory from its stockpile to thieves who likely sold it on the black market to feed demand in China and other parts of Asia, where it is used in art, as trinkets and carved for name seals.
CITES imposed a nine-year ban on ivory sales in 2007.