The seizure of 221 tusks, loaded on a speedboat which attempted to smuggle the blood ivory from Hong Kong to mainland China near Zhuhai earlier in March, confirms what many conservationists have been saying for a while.
The greed and hunger for the so called white gold in China continues unabated and continues to fuel poaching in Africa – inspite of increasingly heavier sentences and fines – while the country remains the number one destination for blood ivory smuggled across its borders.
‘Only a total ban of processing and possession of ivory can help solve this problem. In China, you kill a Panda they hand you a death penalty. But with our elephants these people are vary cavalier. They might have yielded to international pressure and put some face saving measures into place but truth told, that is all not nearly enough. China, Vietnam and others in that part of the world must ban possession, full stop. Nothing short of such drastic action will save our African elephants’ commented a Nairobi-based conservation source who in recent months had maintained his doubts about China’s sincerity to put an end to the ivory trade.
The seized tusks were given an estimated value of 18 million Yuan according to emerging media reports from China.
Notably Kenya – a leader in conservation and anti-poaching measures, has decided to burn almost the entire stock of ivory held in strongrooms, reportedly some 120 tons, in early April. President Uhuru Kenyatta will be accompanied by members of his cabinet, the Chairman of the Kenya Wildlife Service Dr. Richard Leakey and other conservation personalities, many of them top ranking Hollywood stars, to set a signal that poaching and the use of blood ivory is no longer a minor offense, but a major economic crime against the elephant range states in Africa. Many of the elephant countries depend greatly on tourism to bring in much needed foreign exchange and help create and maintain jobs, and the prospect of China’s greed and hunger for blood ivory wiping out the last great herds of elephant is becoming increasingly unacceptable to the rest of the world.