Tags: china | destroys | ivory | curb | poaching | smuggling

China Destroys Ivory To Help Curb Poaching, Smuggling

By    |   Tuesday, 07 January 2014 12:49 PM

China destroyed 6.83 tons of ivory that was confiscated as part of a concerted effort by the government to stomp out illegal poaching and smuggling.

The large-scale crushing of ivory stockpiles was carried out Monday after members of the animal rights community said the Communist nation's appetite for the contraband has fueled a surge in poaching in Africa, Reuters reported.

Monday's event was attended by representatives of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, non-government groups and the media.

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"China is sending a very powerful message both domestically, to the Chinese people, and internationally, that it is not prepared to tolerate the illegal trade in elephant ivory," said CITES Secretary General John Scanlon.

The function, held on the outskirts of a southern industrial city, featured elephant tusks placed in the shape of a flower on an outdoor stage, surrounded by ivory statues of the Buddha.

But China, ranked as the world's biggest end-market for poached ivory by conservation body the World Wildlife Fund, still has work to do, some anti-smuggling officials said.

"There is an increasing trend of ivory being smuggled to China," said Yang Liuying, an anti-smuggling researcher for the Chinese customs department.

"We have to strengthen our efforts in this area. I can say that there is a 10 percent increase every year."

China has been making products from elephant ivory for almost 5,000 years, an official of the country's Endangered Species Import and Export Management Office told official news agency Xinhua in November.

Crushed tusks also have a small role in traditional Chinese medicine.

Although China signed the CITES pact banning global trade in ivory in 1981, it got an exemption from the body in 2008 to buy 62 metric tons of ivory from several African nations. It releases a portion of that stockpile each year to government-licensed ivory carving factories.

China has said the factories only use ivory acquired legally, and in no way encourage or worsen the problem of elephant poaching in Africa.

Although China has said it will jail convicted ivory smugglers for life, it has stopped short of saying it will ban the trade outright.

Demand for ivory has grown along with growth in China's population and economy, conservation group Save the Elephants said in a statement.

China faced pressure last spring when it was one of eight Asian and African countries identified by CITES as a primary source, transit or import country for illegal ivory, and was asked to submit a plan outlining how it would better address regulation and enforcement.

About 22,000 elephants were illegally killed in 2012, a CITES monitoring program showed. The total population of African elephants is now estimated at between 420,000 and 650,000.

Similarly, Hong Kong also plans on destroying 32.6 tons of ivory it recently seized in raids, though a date has yet to be set. Hong Kong is believed to be a major transit point for illegal ivory in Asia.

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China destroyed 6.83 tons of ivory that was confiscated as part of a concerted effort by the government to stomp out illegal poaching and smuggling.
Tuesday, 07 January 2014 12:49 PM
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