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China denies ivory smuggling claims and vows to support Kenya
Date Published: 22 Feb, 2013
The Chinese Government has denied claims of driving the global illegal wildlife trade and promised to support Kenya’s conservation efforts.
The Chinese Ambassador to Kenya, H.E. Mr. Liu Guangyuan, said accusations by Western and African media on wildlife poaching and illegal ivory trade were false. He also pointed out that anti-poaching activists in Mombasa earlier this month had falsely accused China for having too light penalties for those engaged in ivory smuggling.
The Chinese Ambassador was speaking during a courtesy on the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Director, Mr William Kiprono in Nairobi. Mr. Guangyuan said China has the most stringent penalties on wildlife crime globally. “Perpetrators of ivory trade and its products get up to life imprisonment,” he said.
Mr. Guangyuan the Chinese Government had strengthened law enforcement since joining Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1981. He stated that recent ivory stock piles in China were bought in 2008. That was the only time he states that a legal trader was permitted by CITES to buy the stockpiles.
He also confirmed that his country conducts educational campaigns to its citizens globally on wildlife protection. He gave an example of the 600 Chinese tourists who recently visited Kenya, received text messages to ask them to keep off ivory products during their visit to Kenya.
“We should be vigilant of the forces behind the scenes in poaching activities across the country; this will be used against the Chinese in severing our good relations.” He warned
Mr. Kiprono thanked Mr. Guangyuan for his visit and urged the Chinese Government to sympathize with the situation of losing elephants to poachers and illegal gangs.
“Local communities here in Kenya are to blame because they are the ones involved in poaching, however we should not get into blame games but attend to issues of importance,” he said.
He further urged Mr. Guangyuan to involve his Government in supporting Kenya’s proposals at the forthcoming CITES meeting in curbing demand for ivory. Mr. Patrick Omondi, the KWS Head of Species, asked for China’s voice internationally in reducing the trade by exploring the possibilities not using ivory in China itself.
“We need your help in building the capacity of wildlife protection and the forthcoming Conference of Parties (COP) meeting in Bangkok to sustain the moratorium to another 10 years is critical so as to suspend the illegal ivory trade,” Mr. Omondi said.
The Ambassador pledged his government’s support to KWS after the new government is in place. The support will be on several projects that touch on law enforcement through various security equipments, training and infrastructure development. In addition, the Chinese government will support legislation efforts together with education and public awareness campaigns locally and internationally.
Kenya’s conservation efforts have received backing from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, the US, Chile and now China as it prepares for the CITES meeting next month. The country will be pushing for five amendments to global wildlife conservation treaties in the wake of increased poaching of elephants, rhinos and cheetahs.