It must have been a pleasant surprise to many people when news emerged that China had actually crushed 662 kg of confiscated ivory in a public ceremony on Friday, 29 May 2015 in Beijing. This was perhaps a stronger statement than, say, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta torching a much larger consignment of largely unworked ivory earlier this year. Kenya is officially against any form of ivory trade and has been burning ivory for a while now.

What also emerged is that this is the second time China has publicly destroyed illegal ivory, for in January 2014, 6.1 tonnes of confiscated ivory were destroyed in the southern city of Dongguan.

Earlier in February this year, China also imposed a one-year ban on importation of ivory carvings and the government has also promised to strictly control ivory processing and trade until commercial processing and sale of ivory are eventually halted. This is a first for China. China has never tried to stop ‘legal’ ivory trade.

Everyone knows that China is the biggest destination of illegal ivory in the world. For instance, experts argue that close to 70% of illegal ivory ends up in China! This is attributed to the fact that the Chinese love ivory, and many can now afford it given the rapid growth in income in China.

China’s presence in Africa, where most of this ivory comes from, has grown alarmingly quickly as China’s construction companies take up massive infrastructure projects most often bankrolled by loans from Chinese banks to African governments – who are ‘looking East’, as it were. The presence of large contingents of Chinese workers in Africa has coincided with marked increase in poaching for ivory. Well, it is not much of a coincidence given the large number of Chinese nationals who’ve been arrested trying to smuggle illegal ivory out of their host countries. The New York Times once reported that there were more than 150 of them arrested in 2011 in various African countries.

That said, the rapid manner in which the Chinese government has made announcements and shown gestures of goodwill lead us to ask if China is finally coming to the party. These gestures have filled conservationists with hope, albeit cautious hope. Perhaps the caution with which conservationists are approaching this new turn in China’s laissez faire attitude is that we don’t really understand the Chinese.

China is well capable of controlling anything that happens within its borders. In the case of ivory, as the Taiwan-based Want China Times news website reports:

Ivory must be processed at designated places, sold in approved shops and tracked on an individual item basis. Each legal ivory product can be tracked through a unique photo ID and is recorded in a database.

This then begs the question of why China has not effectively controlled illegal ivory trade in the past. It is also understood that the Chinese government knows about everyone who is within the borders, local or foreigner. How they are not able to track and arrest illegal ivory traders with more enthusiasm is a whole other question.

China has strong laws to deal with perpetrators of illegal activities. According to the news website, anyone involved in the illegal ivory trade is liable to punishment ranging from six months imprisonment to a life sentence.

As Kenyans, and all of Africa, turn their eyes towards China as the last hope for the end of poaching, one wonders if China will give us this coveted prize. Whether once again, the elephant will roam the Savannah without fear of being shot down and their face hacked off. Whether once again, elephant families will thrive and matriarchs will pass on their knowledge to younger generations.

China is probably coming to the party. But we should bring out our metal detectors, sniffer dogs and bomb detectors to make sure that they are not carrying any concealed weapons. We’ll buy the detectors from China…

Is China Finally Coming to the Party?http://kijanimedia.co.ke/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/china-ivory-crush.jpghttp://kijanimedia.co.ke/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/china-ivory-crush-150x150.jpg Sam Maina Poaching,,,
It must have been a pleasant surprise to many people when news emerged that China had actually crushed 662 kg of confiscated ivory in a public ceremony on Friday, 29 May 2015 in Beijing. This was perhaps a stronger statement than, say, Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta torching a much...
It must have been a pleasant surprise to many people when news emerged that China had actually crushed 662 kg of confiscated ivory in a public ceremony on Friday, 29 May 2015 in Beijing. This was perhaps a stronger statement than, say, Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta torching a much larger consignment of largely unworked ivory earlier this year. Kenya is officially against any form of ivory trade and has been burning ivory for a while now. <a href="http://localhost/kijaniwp/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/china-ivory-crush.jpg"><img class="alignnone wp-image-785 size-full" src="http://localhost/kijaniwp/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/china-ivory-crush.jpg" alt="" width="695" height="293" /></a> What also emerged is that this is the second time China has publicly destroyed illegal ivory, for in January 2014, 6.1 tonnes of confiscated ivory were destroyed in the southern city of Dongguan. Earlier in February this year, China also imposed a one-year ban on importation of ivory carvings and the government has also promised to strictly control ivory processing and trade until commercial processing and sale of ivory are eventually halted. This is a first for China. China has never tried to stop 'legal' ivory trade. <em>Everyone</em> knows that China is the biggest destination of illegal ivory in the world. For instance, experts argue that close to 70% of illegal ivory ends up in China! This is attributed to the fact that the Chinese love ivory, and many can now afford it given the rapid growth in income in China. China's presence in Africa, where most of this ivory comes from, has grown alarmingly quickly as China's construction companies take up massive infrastructure projects most often bankrolled by loans from Chinese banks to African governments - who are 'looking East', as it were. The presence of large contingents of Chinese workers in Africa has coincided with marked increase in poaching for ivory. Well, it is not much of a coincidence given the large number of Chinese nationals who've been arrested trying to smuggle illegal ivory out of their host countries. The <em>New York Times</em> once reported that there were more than 150 of them arrested in 2011 in various African countries. That said, the rapid manner in which the Chinese government has made announcements and shown gestures of goodwill lead us to ask if China is finally coming to the party. These gestures have filled conservationists with hope, albeit cautious hope. Perhaps the caution with which conservationists are approaching this new turn in China's <i>laissez faire</i> attitude is that we don't really understand the Chinese. China is well capable of controlling anything that happens within its borders. In the case of ivory, as the Taiwan-based <em>Want China Times</em> news website reports: <blockquote>Ivory must be processed at designated places, sold in approved shops and tracked on an individual item basis. Each legal ivory product can be tracked through a unique photo ID and is recorded in a database.</blockquote> This then begs the question of why China has not effectively controlled illegal ivory trade in the past. It is also understood that the Chinese government knows about everyone who is within the borders, local or foreigner. How they are not able to track and arrest illegal ivory traders with more enthusiasm is a whole other question. China has strong laws to deal with perpetrators of illegal activities. According to the news website, anyone involved in the illegal ivory trade is liable to punishment ranging from six months imprisonment to a life sentence. As Kenyans, and all of Africa, turn their eyes towards China as the last hope for the end of poaching, one wonders if China will give us this coveted prize. Whether once again, the elephant will roam the Savannah without fear of being shot down and their face hacked off. Whether once again, elephant families will thrive and matriarchs will pass on their knowledge to younger generations. China is probably coming to the party. But we should bring out our metal detectors, sniffer dogs and bomb detectors to make sure that they are not carrying any concealed weapons. We'll buy the detectors from China...