Monday, April 11, 2011

Is China responsible for the killing of African Elephants?

"Ninety percent of all the people who pass through our airports and are apprehended with illegal wildlife trophies are Chinese," These are words uttered by Julius Kipng'etich, director of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

The facts
Reports have been flying through the media insinuating many blame China for the rise in elephant killings in Africa, with the latest incident to point to these thoughts and trend being witnessed on late last month March 30th when Thai customs seized two tons of ivory hidden in the hold of a ship arriving from Kenyan port of Mombasa. The 247 tusks are estimated to be worth about $3.3 million, illustrating the lucrative nature of a global illegal trade that threatens to decimate Africa's wildlife.

Thailand capture two tons of ivory shipping from Kenya...
2009 was the worst year Kenya had recorded in decades for poaching with 249 elephants killed, up from 140 in 2008 and only 47 in 2007.

How is China implicated?
China is visibly investing highly in Africa every year in deals that swap roads and railways for the minerals and natural resources that contribute to its growing economy with experts calling for the African people to examine the dark side of the Chinese presence in Africa with statements such as "China is the major driver for trade in ivory and that is linked to China's phenomenal economic growth, the level of disposable income there, a re-embracing of traditional culture and status symbols in which ivory plays a role and phenomenal increase of Chinese nationals on the African continent," coming from Tom Milliken, regional director for east and southern Africa at TRAFFIC.
Dead elephants due to poaching
"KWS noticed a marked increase in poaching wherever Chinese labor camps were located and in fact set up specific interdiction efforts aimed to reduce poaching" An embassy cable written by the US ambassador to Kenya, Michael Ranneberger written in February 2010 and published by the website WikiLeaks.

Is it an inside job?
Implications of KWS workers being involved in the trade is a worrying factor with statements such as below causing a panic on whether to trust or not to trust the KWS workers!

"I suspect that a lot of the killing being done in Kenya is carried out by wildlife department personnel.."Peter Younger, Interpol's wildlife crime program manager.

"We are right back where we were in the 1980's. I suspect that a lot of killing that is being done in Kenya is either carried out by wildlife department personnel or with their full connivance," Richard Leaky ,a Kenyan renowned conservationist and former head of the national wildlife authority.

 Kipng'etich however denied any collusion by wildlife officials,saying that if you look at the seizures it was clear they were not coming from government stocks because those were marked with indelible ink in accordance with regulations. He further added that the wildlife service has "counter intelligence" measurse to keep an eye on its own staff,and that any member of staff who was involved in poaching knew the tough consequences; Losing their job and facing to go to jail.

Our question to you is: Who do you think is responsible for the rise of elephants death and the ivory trade?

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