Wildlife & Biodiversity

‘China committed to supporting conservation of African wildlife’

Senior Beijing official addresses delegates at a workshop in Nairobi, says China has been and will cooperate with African governments to save African animals

By Rajat Ghai
Published: Tuesday 26 March 2019
An elephant herd in the Masai Mara. Photo: Getty Images
An elephant herd in the Masai Mara. Photo: Getty Images An elephant herd in the Masai Mara. Photo: Getty Images

A senior Chinese official has stated that the government of China is committed to conserving African wildlife that faces serious threats due to poachers hunting for animals parts to be used eventually in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) by cooperating with the continent’s governments and people.

"In recent years, China-Africa cooperation in wildlife conservation has been well developed. The Chinese government and private sector have provided funds, equipment, manpower and technology to support African countries in the conservation of endangered species and habitats, and conducting capacity building trainings,” said Peng Youdong, deputy administrator of the National Forestry and Grassland Administration (NGFA) of China.                                                               

He was speaking in Nairobi during a workshop on addressing wildlife trafficking that was attended by Chinese officials and business executives, Kenyan policymakers and international conservation non-profit representatives.

"The Chinese government has successfully raised the awareness among citizens and enterprises (based in Africa), and also asked them to engage in local wildlife conservation and fundamentally eradicate illegal wildlife trade," said Peng.

A burgeoning Chinese nouveau riche population that also happens to be fixated with the country’s ancient system of medicine, TCM, has meant death for millions of animals across Africa.

Rhinos, elephants, lions and leopards face the greatest threats from Chinese aspirations. Rhino horns, made of keratin (from which human nails and hair are also made) are prized in TCM and demand in China has meant that rhino populations have been diminished in both Africa and Asia.

Tiger bones are also prized in TCM. Since tigers are already very few, TCM manufacturers have looked for and found alternatives in Africa’s lions and leopards. In recent years, there have been increasing reports about African lions and leopards being hunted for their bones.

But the most dangerous result of Chinese aspiration is the fate of African Elephants. Ivory has long been prized in China, throughout its long history. Since Asian elephants with tusks have already been hunted down and newer generations have evolved to bear no tusks at all, Chinese ivory makers have turned to Africa, where the Continent’s Bush or Savannah Elephant has been decimated in the last 20 years to satisfy Chinese demand.

Another animal being hunted is the pangolin, now the 'most trafficked animal in the world'

Speaking to Down To Earth, Kenya-based conservationist and author, Mordecai Ogada said, "This is just Kenyan non-profits trying to make money from the Chinese government, which, on the other hand, is trying to look good at conservation. I would not take it seriousely."

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