China cited as core cul­prit in ele­phant poach­ing cri­sis

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - SHEREE BEGA

CHINA – the lead­ing con­sumer of il­licit ivory – re­mains the “bo­gey” among the “Gang of Eight” coun­tries that are most heav­ily im­pli­cated in the large-scale il­le­gal ivory trade.

“Their in­sis­tence on keep­ing ivory as a con­sumer prod­uct will con­tinue to fuel the trade in il­le­gal ivory,” warned Adam Cruise of the Con­ser­va­tion Ac­tion Trust.

“Un­less they com­mit… to the com­plete halt of ivory sales, ele­phants will con­tin­u­ally be slaugh­tered through­out Africa.”

Cruise was com­ment­ing on draft plans China has sub­mit­ted to the Con­ven­tion on In­ter­na­tional Trade in En­dan­gered Species (Cites) on how it plans to tackle the on­go­ing ele­phant poach­ing cri­sis.

This comes af­ter Cites sin­gled out the so-called Gang of Eight coun­tries, Kenya, Tan­za­nia, Uganda – where ivory is sourced – Malaysia, Viet­nam and the Philip­pines – gate­way na­tions for ivory traf­fick­ing – and China and Thai­land, where de­mand for the prod­uct is great­est.

Cruise said all eight coun­tries had sub­mit­ted draft plans, but that th­ese were “just enough to prove com­pli­ance”.

“Main­land China’s plan is con­cerned pri­mar­ily with mak­ing clear distinctions be­tween the le­gal and il­le­gal trade in ivory. In short, they don’t see a prob­lem with killing ele­phants, as long as it’s ‘le­gal’,” he said.

“The plan con­sists of im­ple­ment­ing an im­proved cer­ti­fi­ca­tion card sys­tem for traders, which would be re­voked for non-com­pli­ance.”

He said ele­phant poach­ing con­tin­ued un­abated through­out Uganda, Kenya and Tan­za­nia, “but trends are in­di­cat­ing that poach­ers are now tar­get­ing other African coun­tries”.

“Ivory smug­glers no longer seem to pre­fer Mom­basa or Zanz­ibar as an exit point, and are in­creas­ingly mak­ing use of Mozam­bique and a va­ri­ety of West African ports,” he added.

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