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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

 

Kenya commend China ivory trade ban, urge others to follow suit

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s government on Friday hailed China’s landmark decision to ban domestic trade in ivory products and urged other countries to follow suit in order to save the remaining population of elephants.

Patrick Omondi, the Acting Director for Research in the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, said the closure of domestic ivory market in China marked a new beginning in protection of elephants and other iconic species.
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"As a government, we applaud China for closing the ivory market and the move will have a significant impact on wildlife conservation," Omondi remarked at a media briefing in Nairobi attended by wildlife campaigners.

China honors its commitment to ending commercial processing and sales of ivory by the end of 2017.

The move affects 34 processing enterprises and 143 designated trading venues, with all of them to close, in the world’s once largest ivory market.

Kenyan officials and wildlife campaigners noted that China’s decision to ban trade in ivory products served as a wakeup call for other countries to outlaw this practice and help save elephants.

"As a country we will be advocating for closure of all ivory markets globally. We have been calling for closure of domestic ivory market in countries like the United Kingdom, Thailand and Japan.

:We believe the domestic market is used as a window to launder ivory," he added.

  Jim Nyamu, Executive Director at the Elephant Neighbours Center | Coastweek

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Jim Nyamu, Executive Director at the Elephant Neighbours Center addresses the press on the awareness walk to save the elephant held in London, in Nairobi. The walk aims at raising awareness about elephant’s conservation under the Ivory Belongs to Elephants campaign. XINHUA PHOTO - CHARLES ONYANGO

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Kenya is a member of the African Elephant Coalition that has lobbied for total ban on ivory trade to help save the giant mammals that roam the continent’s vast jungles.

Omondi said that besides supporting ivory trade ban, Kenya has enacted sweeping legislation while adopting innovative measures to protect elephants from human predators.

"In the last three years, we have witnessed an 80 percent decline in poaching after enacting punitive legislation to contain the vice," Omondi said.

Meanwhile, Kenyan wildlife campaigners welcomed China’s ivory trade ban, terming it a giant step towards eradicating poaching in the region.

Jim Nyamu, the Executive Director of Nairobi-based Elephants Neighbors Centre, said the closure of ivory market in China has inspired campaigners to reach out to grassroots communities and educate them on the need to conserve their wildlife heritage.
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EARLIER REPORTS:

China ivory trade ban offers hope for future of African elephants

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- The government of Tanzania and conservation organizations on Wednesday hailed China’s decision to end ivory trade, saying the move offered hope for the future of elephants in Africa.

Major General Gaudence Milanzi, Tanzania’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, said "China as a country has been at the front line in fighting poaching."

Milanzi said China’s efforts, including the ban on all trade in ivory and ivory products, have helped to bring down poaching levels in Tanzania, calling upon other countries across the world to follow suit.

Milanzi praised the government of China for the good move which proved to the international community that it was determined to end the business and protect the animal.

"These outcomes are very encouraging.

"We applaud the Chinese leadership in this," said January Makamba, Minister of State in the Vice-President’s Office responsible for the Environment.

Makamba said China’s decision was consistent with its leadership in climate change and other important global issues.

"We hope other countries which have been reluctant will follow suit. Concerted global effort on the demand side makes it easier for anti-poaching efforts on the supply side to succeed," said the minister in an email to Xinhua.

China has honored its commitment to ending commercial processing and sales of ivory by the end of 2017, China’s State Forestry Administration has said, adding it was China’s "new year gift to the elephant."

"The Chinese authorities will continue to clamp down on ivory collection as well as processing, sales, transportation and smuggling of elephant tusks," the administration said.

The move affects 34 processing enterprises and 143 designated trading venues, with all of them to close, in the world’s once largest ivory market.

"China has long been one of the world’s biggest markets for ivory. World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Tanzania is very delighted to see the doors of this market closed," Amani Ngusaru, the organization’s country director for Tanzania said .

"We are particularly excited to see that the government of China has followed through on a great promise it made to the world, offering hope for the future of elephants in Africa," he said.

Ngusaru said it was important to realize that commercial ivory trade ban in China alone will not be sufficient deterrence for elephant poachers, adding that the same action should be taken by other nations where ivory trading is still practiced.

TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring network, said in a report in December 2017 that Japan remained one of the world’s largest domestic ivory markets, and is home to an active, though shrinking, ivory manufacturing industry.

The report, compiled with the support of the World Wildlife Fund, said 2.42 tonnes of ivory, including elephant tusks, antiques and jewellery, were illegally exported from Japan between 2011 and 2016.

"The country also boasts significant stockpiles of raw tusks in private ownership, a cultural legacy from its past trade," said the report titled "Ivory Towers: An Assessment of Japan’s Ivory trade and domestic market".

Co-author of the report Tomomi Kitade said earlier in a report that their findings show without doubt that Japan’s largely unregulated domestic ivory market is contributing to illegal trade and it is imperative that Japan’s role within international illegal ivory trade be recognized.

Attilio Tagalile, a Tanzanian veteran journalist now working with WWF Tanzania, said China’s ban on ivory trade will considerably help in checking poaching, especially in Tanzania which lost 90 percent of its elephant population in the Selous game reserve, one of the largest faunal reserves of the world, located in the south of country, between 1982 and 2014.

"The ban on ivory trade in China means drastic fall of ivory prices which in turn translates into drastic fall in poaching that leads to continued existence of elephants not only in the Selous Game Reserve but in Tanzania, and in Africa in general," said Tagalile.

In January 2017, former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa commended China for banning ivory trade and urged other countries across the world to follow suit.

"The banning of ivory trade in other countries like what China has done will lead to ending poaching in Tanzania," said Mkapa who ruled Tanzania between 1995 and 2005.

"It is better for other countries across the world to emulate what China has done in order to save the lives of elephants that are disappearing in various parts of the world," he said.

"China is not the only destination country for ivory trade, there is a number of other countries in Europe, America and the Far East, so our call is for the other destinations to ban the trade in their countries and that’s where we can move on and succeed in our fight," he said.

The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) on Tuesday also lauded China’s ban on ivory trade as a major milestone step.

UWA Executive Director Andrew Seguya told Xinhua that China’s decision will go a long way in the conservation and protection of the African elephants.

"It gives us a lot of hope for elephants of Uganda, elephants of Africa and elephants of the world. So we congratulate the Chinese government for that decision," he said.
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Zimbabwe wildlife industry welcomes China ban on ivory trade

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe’s wildlife conservation industry has welcomed China’s ban on ivory trade but stressed on the need for strong enforcement for the measure to be effective.

The ban entered into force on Dec. 31, 2017, in China, once the world’s biggest market for ivory.

Tom Milliken of Traffic International, a global wildlife trade monitoring network, told Xinhua Friday that the effectiveness of the ban was hinged on strict enforcement of the law.

"China’s ivory trade ban will be as effective as its law enforcement action that will be employed to implement it," Milliken said.

"Policy changes alone is not going to work unless strong action on law enforcement is taken."

Zimbabwe has over the years battled poaching of its wildlife, particularly the elephant and the rhino, with the number of its endangered rhino falling to about 800 due to poaching.

The size of Zimbabwe’s elephant herd, at 84,000, is more than its carrying capacity.

Due to a Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) ban on ivory trade, Zimbabwe has been unable to sell its huge stockpile of ivory, which now stands at 70 tons.

Last month, authorities intercepted 200 kg of ivory at the Harare Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, which was destined for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

In 2013, Zimbabwe witnessed one of its worst poaching cases in years when poachers poisoned more than 100 elephants with cyanide in the country’s largest game reserve, Hwange National Park.

Johnny Rodrigues, chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, said China’s ban on ivory trade could potentially help reduce poaching of wildlife in Zimbabwe.

"I believe it (ban) will help contain the poaching problem if the two countries enforce their policies and police their rules," Rodrigues said.
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China ivory ban good example for elephant conservation: Rwandan experts

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- China’s ban on domestic ivory sales will have positive impact on elephant conservation, Rwandan experts told Xinhua in interviews recently.

China, which was once seen as a prime destination of ivory trade, made a commendable decision that stops the key supply channel of ivory and this will impact positively on elephant conservation, said Telesphore Ngoga, analyst at the tourism and conservation department of Rwanda Development Board.

China honors its commitment to ending commercial processing and sales of ivory in China by the end of 2017.

The move affects 34 processing enterprises and 143 designated trading venues, with all of them to close, in the world’s once largest ivory market.

It is obvious that the ivory supply is discouraged in favor of the elephants which had been kept under the threat of poaching, according to Ngoga.

Such decision will hopefully influence other markets to finally follow the model, he said.

"This is the decision of the year," he added.

China’s ivory ban will greatly contribute to eradication of poaching and killing of elephants which will promote conservation of elephants across all national parks in Africa and other areas outside the continent, said Greg Bakunzi, a wildlife conservation expert who is also the founder of a tourism enterprise.

Elephant numbers were severely depleted during the 20th century, largely due to the massive ivory trade, according to World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

While some populations are now stable and growing, poaching, conflict and habitat destruction continue to threaten the species, said the wildlife conservation organization.

The 2015 trends in the poaching of African elephants showed that the steady increase in the levels of illegal killing of elephants witnessed since 2006, and peaking in 2011, had been halted and stabilized but at levels that remained unacceptably high overall, said the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in a statement in 2016.

Despite the slight decline and stabilization recorded since 2011, estimated poaching rates overall remain higher than the normal growth rate of elephant populations, or above the sustainability threshold, meaning the elephant population overall is likely to have continued to decline in 2015, said the statement.

Over 20,000 African elephants were poached across Africa in 2013 alone, CITES said in 2014.

China’s commitment to expanding its involvement in reducing the ivory trade is vital toward shutting down other large ivory markets in the world, said Bakunzi, adding that China is showing a good example to the world about the importance of wildlife conservation and protection.

"Now it’s time for other countries to take a stand for elephants and demonstrate global leadership on the closure of commercial processing and sales of ivory," he said.
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Botswana commend China’s ivory trade ban

GABORONE Botswana (Xinhua) -- Wildlife authorities and experts in Botswana on Thursday hailed an ivory trade ban in China as a vital step to reducing the slaughter of the endangered animals.

In a telephone interview with Xinhua, Botswana’s Environment, Natural Resources Conversation and Tourism Minister Tshekedi Khama said the move offers hope for the future of elephants in Botswana and the better part of Africa.

China closed doors to the ivory trade on Dec. 31, 2017, as it became illegal to trade in ivory and its products in the world’s most populace nation.

China has taken the eradication of ivory trade upon herself and public awareness campaigns featuring celebrities have helped boost awareness of the bloody cost of ivory.

According to Khama, it is estimated that 30,000 elephants are killed by poachers in Africa every year with Botswana bearing the brunt since her economy is hinged on tourism.

He said tourism is an increasingly important industry in Botswana, accounting for almost 12 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

"It (ivory trade ban) is the greatest single step toward reducing elephant poaching and ensuring that our tourism increases the revenue to the government coffers," said Khama.

Khama hailed China for a full closure of the door on ivory trade.

Kenneth Sechele, a board member with Elephants Scents - a non-governmental organization responsible for protecting elephants from extinction - said the ban on all ivory sales has already led to an 80 percent decline in seizures of illegal ivory entering China.

"A 65 percent decline in raw ivory prices has also been realized in China.

"This shows that China had taken a decision that qualifies to be a historic one world over," he said.

Sechele said the ban on imports of African ivory carvings will boost the fight against wildlife crimes in Botswana and the region.

"The move by the Chinese government is a strategic decision that will rejuvenate the fight against poaching in the country and the region. China has inspired governments and individuals campaigning for the stemming of wildlife crimes," Sechele told Xinhua in a telephone interview.

Executive Director of Our Elephants, Our Pride, a non-governmental organization in Botswana, Monwametsi Mothibi, praised China’s ban on ivory trade as a revolutionary stride.

Mothibi said his organization is very grateful that the Chinese government has found in its heart to stop trading in this commodity.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the population of African elephants declined by 111,000 over the past 10 years.

The overall trends in the poaching of African elephants show a decline from the 2011 peak, but are still at levels too high when viewed continent-wide.

             

 

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