China cited as core culprit in elephant poaching crisis
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.