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Britain pledges to work with East Africa in fighting poaching

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Britain on Friday reaffirmed its commitment to working with East African governments in fighting poaching and the illegal wildlife trade.

“Only through partnerships among governments and other players, the war on poaching and illegal wildlife trade would be won,” said Matt Sutherland, the British Deputy High Commissioner to Tanzania.

Sutherland said the British government placed a high priority on protecting Tanzania’s unique biodiversity, and that doing so was good for the environment, the economy and for social development within the country.

He spoke in the east African nation’s tourist city of Arusha during talks with the Director General of Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA), Allan Kijazi, shortly after the British envoy handed over laptops to help with better collection and use of data and intelligence.

“We are delighted to be part of the Tanzania government’s efforts to fight illegal poaching,” said Sutherland, adding: “By bringing together information and intelligence, TANAPA can tackle criminal networks, identifying trends and patterns in behavior to ensure they are one step ahead of poachers.”

He said working together with neighboring countries will ensure that criminal networks cannot exploit borders for their own gain.

The handover of laptops marked the completion of two rounds of regional training involving conservation officials from Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Rwanda.

The training was facilitated by The British Peace Support Team (BPST) based in Kenya. BPST is part of the British Army which coordinates and delivers peace support training across the Eastern African region.

In June 2015, the government of Tanzania released an elephant population estimate from a country-wide aerial survey which showed that the elephant population has declined by 60 percent since 2009.

A 2014 elephant census showed that the country has a total elephant population of 43,521, compared to the 2009 census where there were 109,051 elephants in the East African nation.



China sees sharp decline in ivory smuggling in 2016

BEIJING China (Xinhua) -- The amount of smuggled ivory tracked down in China fell 80 percent in 2016 from previous peak years, the State Forestry Administration (SFA) said Sunday.

Liu Dongsheng, deputy head of the SFA, made the remarks at the opening ceremony of a wildlife protection campaign, without specifying detailed numbers.

China will stop commercial processing and sales of ivory by the end of this year. Last year, it imposed a three-year ban on ivory imports in an escalated fight against illegal trading of wild animals and plants.

The number of illegal wildlife trade cases has been on the decline since last year, said Liu.

Meanwhile, the numbers of critically endangered species in China, including giant pandas, crested ibis, Yangtze alligators and Tibetan antelopes, have been increasing steadily, he said.

China’s newly-revised law on wild animal protection took effect at the start of this year, imposing harsher punishment on overkilling and illegal utilization of wild animals.



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