China’s role in promoting wildlife conservation in Africa has helped support economic growth in countries relying on tourism, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) spokesman Paul Udoto said in an interview with Xinhua.
According to Udoto, China’s unremitting efforts in protecting Africa’s wildlife have led to a decline in poaching across Africa and a drastic fall in the value of illegal raw ivory in the Asian nation in the past two years, giving hopes the wanton killing of Africa’s elephants may finally be curbed.
China imposed a ban on imports of African ivory in October 2015.
Kenyan analysts said the two countries’ commitment to enact “a near total ban” on the import and export of ivory represents a major step toward shutting down an industry that has fuelled the illegal hunting of elephants.
“China responded to the issue by increasing the capacity of its smuggling supervision system and conducting in-depth investigations of its existing legal trade,” said Charles Oluchina, director of Field Programs, Africa Region at The Nature Conservancy.
Oluchina said that, in countries like Kenya and Tanzania, China has provided technical assistance and material support to help them improve wildlife management and monitoring, and enforce related laws.
The expert said Beijing has made great efforts in encouraging its media and citizens to participate in wildlife conservation activities in Africa through digital platforms so as to raise people’s awareness of the status and value of Africa’s wildlife.
Chinese business community and superstars like Yao Ming have become great supporters and brand ambassadors for Africa’s wildlife, Oluchina added.
Udoto said that Kenya’s wildlife agency has been carrying out cooperation with Chinese authorities to protect threatened species from international trade.
Last April, a high-powered delegation led by KWS Director General William Kiprono visited Beijing with an aim to build strategic partnership in wildlife protection, tourism and national park infrastructure development.
“Both Kenya and China are among the eight countries mandated by CITES (also known as the Washington Convention) to strengthen wildlife protection and combat wildlife crime, and the two countries have forged a strategic collaboration to boost wildlife protection,” Udoto said.
Cooperation in key areas such as intelligence sharing and technological exchange has been strengthened to boost the war against poaching, Udoto added.
As part of the efforts to protect wildlife in Kenya, China donated 18 four-wheel drive vehicles and assorted equipment to KWS in November 2015 to assist wildlife conservation and stem wildlife crime.
Conservationists estimate that about 100 elephants are killed every day in Africa by poachers.