Africa's leading conservationists hail China's ivory ban
The Chinese government's decision to terminate ivory processing and trade by the end of 2017 marked a critical milestone in the journey toward eliminating poaching and other threats to Africa's elephant species, a conservationist group said on Wednesday.
Kaddu Sebunya, president of African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) hailed China for taking bold measures to revitalize global efforts to save African elephants whose numbers had declined this decade due to poaching and climatic stresses.
"The recent announcement by the central government of China to ban all domestic ivory trade by the end of 2017 offers a glimmer of real optimism in the fight against elephant poaching," Sebunya said in a statement issued in Nairobi
The Chinese authority in December 2016 announced the ban on ivory processing and trade in line with Beijing's pledge to galvanize international action on wildlife crimes.
Sebunya noted that closure of the ivory markets will strike a devastating blow to a criminal enterprise that was responsible for loss of Africa's iconic mammals like elephants and rhinos.
"With only about 415,000 elephants remaining in Africa, the step is crucial in ensuring the long-term survival of one of the continent's most iconic species," Sebunya said.
Multilateral agencies have partnered with African governments and wildlife campaigners to inject fresh vitality in efforts to eradicate illegal trade in ivory products.
Sebunya noted that China's latest ban on ivory trade came at an opportune moment when global efforts to eliminate wildlife crimes had slackened.
"By setting a specific end date for its ivory trade, Beijing has sent a strong signal that ivory's rightful place is on an elephant and not as a decorative item in someone's home," said Sebunya.
He noted that the blossoming China-Africa bilateral ties place Beijing at a vantage position to advance the continent's wildlife conservation agenda.
"China, beyond ivory ban should support Africa in strengthening the coexistence of wildlife and human industries," Sebunya remarked, adding that Beijing should lend support to initiatives aimed at halting loss of wildlife habitat in the continent.
He disclosed that his organization has reached out to Chinese businesses and civil society to explore collaborative ventures that would boost wildlife conservation in Africa.