HARARE – China, which recently announced plans to ban its domestic legal ivory trade, said it is committed to end illegal wildlife trade in Zimbabwe and the world.
The Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Huang Ping, said his government attaches great importance to protecting wildlife species and combatting wildlife crime.
“From the strategic height of China’s overall national development, the Chinese government has been consistently improving the legal framework and the laws that provide legal protection to strengthening wildlife protection and combatting illegal trade in wildlife,” he said.
“China will, as always, fulfil in good faith our obligations under international conventions and take active part in international co-operation on wildlife conservation,” Ping told delegates attending a workshop aimed at raising awareness against wildlife trafficking amongst Chinese nationals living and working in Zimbabwe at the weekend.
Zimbabwe is a popular destination for Chinese tourists to Africa thanks to its abundant wildlife resources.
There has been a steady growth in economic and technological co-operation and investment between the two countries in recent years, with China supporting the construction of various infrastructure and factories in Zimbabwe.
However, the increasingly closer ties between China and Zimbabwe have also created opportunities for illegal exploitation of wildlife species, with products smuggled to meet demand in the Chinese marketplace.
The Chinese market is believed to be one of the major drivers of elephant poaching in Africa, which has suffered a massive decline in elephant numbers in recent years.
Some 30 000 elephants are killed by poachers each year, a rate that will extinguish Africa’s elephants within just a few generations if nothing changes.
This led the Chinese authorities to announce in December last year that they would implement a domestic ivory trade ban by the end of 2017.
The news was greeted enthusiastically. Prices have fallen since the announcement. In late 2015, raw ivory sold for about $1 100/kg.
In February 2017, it sold for roughly $730/kg. A large part of the battle against elephant poaching is the presence of legal domestic ivory markets. They serve as a laundering front for illicit ivory.