Posts tagged ‘Ivory trade’

07/04/2017

Can China’s ivory trade ban save elephants? – BBC News

Liu Fenghai has made his fortune in the ivory trade. There was a time when he had 25 craftsmen working exclusively on elephant ivory at his factory in the northern city of Harbin.

He would buy the raw ivory and then have it turned into the pendants, paperweights and statues that once filled shelf after shelf in his shop, as well as the much larger, elaborately carved whole tusks proudly displayed on plinths of their own.

At the height of the market some of them could sell for many thousands of dollars.

Now, to the delight of conservationists everywhere, China is calling a halt to this lucrative end of a brutal and bloody trade.

But Mr Liu, as you might expect, is far from happy. “I feel sad,” the 48-year-old said. “I don’t feel good at all. This tradition has been carried on for thousands of years but now it will die in the hands of our generation.”

“I feel like a sinner,” he added. “In a few hundred years time, we will be seen as the sinners of history.”

Mr Liu says he will mourn the end of the legal ivory trade in ChinaIn fact, although ivory carving can indeed be traced back centuries in China, for much of that time it existed only as a niche art form and the Chinese made barely a dent in the global ivory trade.Throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries, the mass slaughter of elephants was carried out at the hands of the European colonial powers and then later North American entrepreneurs.

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Western demand for ivory ornaments, jewellery, piano keys and billiard balls helped reduce the African elephant population from more than 20 million in the year 1800 to just two million by 1960.

Then came Japan’s post-war economic rise and the slaughter was propelled through the 1970s and ’80s, by which time the elephant was teetering on the brink of extinction.

It was only with the international ban on the trading of elephant ivory in 1989 that the species was given a brief respite.

Once again though, it was another major shift in the global financial order that signalled further disaster – China’s emergence as a major economic power.

An explosion of wealth coupled with the Communist Party’s unique blend of corruption and crony capitalism made ivory the perfect repository of value, both for ostentatious displays of success and discrete gift giving.

The facts and figures behind China’s ivory tradeAn art form became an industry and in a few short years China began to account for up to 70% of the global demand for ivory.

Today, as a result of the surge in poaching, the elephant is once again facing complete annihilation, with estimates suggesting there are fewer than half a million left in Africa.

There may be no more wild populations within a decade.

If Mr Liu believes it is a sin to lose an ancient art, how much more of a sin to lose an ancient species in the name of the mass-produced – often machine-carved – ivory tat that makes up the bulk of the products on sale in China today?

Not a moment too soon, the Chinese government has decided which side of history it wants to be on.A ‘game changer’

This week, by the end of business hours on Friday, almost half of China’s authorised, government-approved ivory factories and shops will have closed their doors for good.

A team of officials from the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) will be on hand to witness the shutdown.

The rest of China’s legal trade will be gone by the end of the year – a total of 34 factories and 138 shops.

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It is a deeply symbolic moment, a “game changer” according to campaigners, with one of the most high profile and vocal, the UK’s Prince William, publically applauding the Chinese government’s decision as “an important commitment”.

No small irony, perhaps, given the role the prince’s own ancestors played in promoting the trade, with more than 1,000 ivory items still held in the royal collection.

China’s move could put pressure on other markets where ivory is traded, like Hong Kong

Estimates suggest poaching has reduced the African elephant population to less than half a million

Campaigners say China’s move could be a “game-changer” for elephants.

But closing China’s carving workshops and retail outlets is so important, it is argued, not only for its own sake, but because this legal business acts as cover for a much bigger black market trade.In 2008 China was allowed, under the Cites system, to buy a 62-tonne stockpile of seized African ivory.

The theory was that, with careful monitoring and a system of certificates, the stockpile would provide a controlled supply to China’s factories and therefore dampen demand for illegal ivory by helping to keep prices low.

It has had the opposite effect. It appears to have in fact stimulated demand by giving consumers the green light that ivory was ok to buy. Coupled with poor enforcement, corruption and fraudulent certifications a huge amount of illegal, newly poached ivory flooded into China and on to the market, some of it under the guise of Cites authorised stock.

Demand rose further and prices, rather than going down, skyrocketed. Research suggests that the illegal stockpile of ivory in China today may stand at 1,000 tonnes or more, far in excess of that supposedly well regulated and controlled quantity purchased back in 2008.

Now, although there are undoubtedly other factors at play – not least the slowing Chinese economy and the crackdown on official graft and gift giving – the announcement of the ban on the legal trade does appear to be helping to bring the speculative frenzy to an end.

Consumers and dealers have been sent a strong signal that the game is up and prices of ivory have recently been dropping, from more than $2,000 (£1,611) per kg in 2014 to around $700 per kilo today.

Thai police officers inspect smuggled African elephant tusk pieces at the customs department in a Bangkok airport, Thailand, 7 March 2017.Image copyrightEPA
Image captionDespite ivory seizures around the world, like this one in Thailand, smuggling persists

Big questions remain, however. As in other markets, like the UK, the Chinese announcement appears to allow for the continued trading of antiques, which campaigners fear may act as a loophole.

Meanwhile, the government has not said what it will do with the remaining stockpile of legal ivory and how it will prevent it from leaking on to the black market.

And while the new policy may well drive the illegal trade further underground, controlling it will still depend on the resources given to law enforcement agencies.

Our own research suggests a less than wholehearted willingness to tackle wildlife crime.

For more than two decades, trade in rhino horn has been completely prohibited in China. Selling, purchasing, transporting or mailing it has been punishable by harsh sentences, including life imprisonment for the worst offenders.

And yet, via a quick search on the internet, traders can be found openly offering rhino horn for sale as whole pieces, as jewellery or for use in Chinese medicine.

The risk attached to both buying and selling appears to be small.

“Trust me, I’ve never had any problems before,” one of the online vendors said, after sending us pictures of rhino horn bracelets.

Source: Can China’s ivory trade ban save elephants? – BBC News

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11/05/2014

Chinese premier vows to combat poaching, ivory smuggling – Xinhua | English.news.cn

Visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said here Saturday that China is strongly committed to protecting wildlife and will spare no effort in combating poaching and ivory smuggling.

The premier made the remarks to Chinese and foreign journalists after visiting the Ivory Burning Site Monument in the Nairobi National Park with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

In 1989, then Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi burned 25 tons of ivory and other hunting trophies in the park. To mark the incineration, the Kenyan government reserved the burning site and set up a monument.

China highly appreciates and respects Kenya’s hardworking effort and remarkable achievement in wildlife protection, Li said, adding China shares Kenya’s considerable emphasis on the issue.

“Our visit to the monument together shows that the two sides are cooperating in good faith to jointly combat poaching and ivory smuggling, and protect wildlife,” the Chinese leader said.

It also indicated that the Chinese government is determined to provide any assistance within its capabilities to help Kenya build the capacity to protect wildlife, he added.

Li said that as a signatory to the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, China has always abode by the pact.

To counter the rising global ivory smuggling and illegal trade over recent years, he said, China has been taking a series of legal actions and creating inter-agency action mechanism to fight against the crime.

Earlier this year, China destroyed 6.1 tons of confiscated ivory, and will continue to strengthen cooperation with Kenya and other countries on ecological and wildlife protection, Li said.

China will promote such a concept in the world — protecting wildlife is to safeguard our common homeland, and protecting biological diversity is to ensure the colorfulness of the Earth, he said.

via Chinese premier vows to combat poaching, ivory smuggling – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

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07/01/2014

China’s first ‘ivory crush’ signals it may join global push to protect African elephants – The Washington Post

China, the world’s biggest consumer of illegal ivory, crushed six tons of tusks and carved ornaments in public Monday, in an event that signaled it would do more to join global efforts to protect African elephants from rampant poaching.

About 25,000 of the estimated 500,000 elephants in Africa are illegally slaughtered each year for their tusks, conservationists say. It is a $10 billion industry that draws in global crime syndicates and African rebel groups, and threatens to wipe out elephants from parts of the continent within a decade.

Although Chinese authorities have stepped up anti-trafficking efforts in recent years, the trade in illegal ivory has continued, in part because many Chinese people do not know elephants have to die for the ivory to be taken.

On Monday, workers in overalls fed scores of weighty tusks and hundreds of small, intricately carved objects into a large, noisy green crushing machine in front of a crowd of officials, diplomats, conservationists and journalists in this small town just outside the southern city of Guangzhou.

“We also hope this event will raise the public awareness of conservation and intensify the responsibilities of enforcement agencies,” said Zhao Shucong, director of the State Forestry Administration. Zhao admitted that ivory smuggling was “still raging” and said that China was “in urgent need of sincere collaboration with different countries and international organizations” to support elephant conservation.

Past efforts to curb ivory poaching have at times disintegrated into finger-pointing between officials in Africa — where corruption and weak law enforcement have allowed poachers to prosper — and countries such as China, where most of the ivory ends up.

via China’s first ‘ivory crush’ signals it may join global push to protect African elephants – The Washington Post.

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04/12/2013

Urgent deal reached in Africa to cut down illegal ivory trade | Fox News

Key states where the illegal ivory trade flourishes have pledged to take urgent measures to try to halt the illicit trade and secure elephant populations across Africa, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, or IUCN, said Wednesday.

elephant.jpg

The agreement was reached at the African Elephant Summit convened by the government of Botswana and the IUCN held in Gaborone over the past few days.

The measures were agreed upon by key African elephant range states including Gabon, Kenya, Niger and Zambia and ivory transit states Vietnam, Philippines and Malaysia, and ivory destination states, including China and Thailand, said the IUCN in a statement.

\”Our window of opportunity to tackle the growing illegal ivory trade is closing and if we do not stem the tide, future generations will condemn our unwillingness to act,\” Botswana President Ian Khama told the summit.

\”Now is the time for Africa and Asia to join forces to protect this universally valued and much needed species,\” he said.

via Urgent deal reached in Africa to cut down illegal ivory trade | Fox News.

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