January 6, 2018

CHINA: As Of December 31, 2017, China Brings An End To Its Ivory Trade. The Country Is Believed To Have Been One Of The World’s Largest Markets For Ivory Products. Yaay! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘ Thank You China! ๐Ÿ˜Š

written by Brigit Katz
Wednesday January 3, 2018

round one year ago, China announced that it would bring an end to its ivory trade by the end of 2017. And the country has stayed true to its promise. As Colin Dwyer reports for NPR, China’s ban on the sale and processing of ivory went into effect on December 31, marking an important step forward in the fight to combat the poaching of African elephants.

In 2015, China joined the United States in vowing to implement a “nearly complete” ban on the import and export of ivory. The two countries are believed to have been the world’s largest markets for ivory products. The U.S. ban went into effect in June 2016, and China completed its ban last week.

The Chinese government were to shut down 105 ivory-carving workshops and retail agencies before New Year’s, according to the Xinhua news agency. Another 67 outlets were closed back in March.

“Decades from now, we may point back to this as one of the most important days in the history of elephant conservation,” Ginette Hemley, senior vice president of wildlife conservation at the World Wildlife Fund, said in a statement after China officially closed its ivory markets. “China has followed through on a great promise it made to the world, offering hope for the future of elephants.”

The international ivory trade has been banned since 1989, under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). But China continued to allow domestic sales of ivory products that were crafted before 1975, according to Reuters. The bulk of the country’s ivory supply came from a single ivory sale permitted by CITES in 2008, reports Rachael Bale of National Geographic. But China’s legal trade has provided cover for the smuggling of illegal ivory, an industry that fuels the slaughter of around 100 African elephants every day.

As Fred Kumah, WWF Director for Africa, writes in a post on Medium, the ban “sets the stage for the critical action needed to enforce it and stamp out the parallel illegal ivory trade that has co-existed for many years with the legal trade.” But he cautions that the “majority” of Chinese citizens are still unaware of the ban.

“This means for the ban to truly have an effect, it will be critical in the coming months to publicize it and harness that support,” Kumah writes.

In the hopes of bolstering awareness, China has launched a major campaign complete with posters, videos and articles encouraging people to say “no to ivory,” according to Bale of National Geographic. In a blog posted to the Chinese social media site Weibo, the country’s forestry ministry recently explained to readers that “if a merchant tells you ‘this is a state-approved ivory dealer’... he is duping you and knowingly violating the law,” reports the BBC.

Lack of public awareness is not the only obstacle to China’s efforts to clamp down on elephant poaching, however. Hong Kong, an autonomous territory in southeastern China, is not covered by the newly implemented ban—and according to Reuters, Hong Kong is a major center of ivory consumption, with 90 percent of its customers coming from mainland China.

Fortunately, Hong Kong has laid out a plan to eliminate its ivory trade over the course of five years. The city’s legislature is expected to put the ban to a final vote in 2018.
written by Christina Russo and Adam Cruise
Thursday January 4, 2018

China is reportedly importing more than 30 wild-caught elephant calves from Zimbabwe following its decision to ban the sale of ivory.

According to a Zimbabwean government official who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, 31 wild elephants recently captured in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe have been air-freighted abroad.

The shipment was confirmed by the Zimbabwean Conservation Task Force.

The official said the elephants are between the ages of 3 and 6, adding that two of them were particularly fragile.

“One female calf is struggling to stand and has open sores on her body. She has been weak since she was captured.

"Another elephant, noticeably small, is quiet and reserved. When approached by other elephants, she moves away. She is suffering from trauma and is possibly being bullied,” the official said.

The elephants were captured from Hwange on August 8 and footage of the operation was secretly released to reporters.

Guardian News Published on Oct 3, 2017: This rare footage exposes the secretive world of wild elephant capture in Zimbabwe. The captors shoot tranquiliser guns from a helicopter on the young elephants, and then dive in the chopper to drive away the rest of the herd. Over the last 20 years more than 1000 wild elephants from Africa and Asia have been captured and sold to zoos around the world; the elephants are often captured while still young.
The Guardian published the explosive video footage, which showed captors repeatedly kicking a five-year-old female elephant in the head.

According to photos sent to reporters from Zimbabwe, Ethiopian Airlines shipped the animals on Friday.

Zimbabwe has sent at least three known shipments of wild captured elephants to China since 2012. Last year, one of the elephants died during transport.

According to Chunmei Hu, an advocate for the Freedom for the Animal Actors organization, two zoos - Chongqing Safari Park and Daqingshan Safari Park - are awaiting elephants, based on Chinese media reports.

International trade in live elephants is legal, however, it is increasingly being debated at the highest level.

At a recent Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meeting in Geneva, representatives from the African Elephant Coalition – a group of 29 African nations that represent 70 percent of the elephants’ range – raised serious concerns on the trade.

Ali Abagana, speaking for the delegation of Niger, told the conference that their country was “concerned about the plight of African elephants, including juvenile animals, captured and sent to captive facilities outside of the species’ range”.

The CITES Secretariat consequently tasked a working group of nations and NGOs to debate the parameters of the live trade in elephants, which exists against a backdrop of poaching that has seen a third of Africa’s elephants wiped out in the past decade.

The working group is being chaired by the United States and includes among others Ethiopia, Kenya, China, hunting lobby group Safari Club International (SCI), animal welfare organizations including Humane Society International (HSI), World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), and American Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

Peter Stroud, the former curator of the Melbourne Zoo from 1998-2003 who was involved in sourcing elephants from Thailand, calls moving wild-caught animals to zoos “unconscionable.”

“There is now abundant evidence that elephants do not and cannot thrive in zoos,” Stroud says.

“Young elephants will never develop naturally as socially and ecologically functioning beings in zoos. They will face a very long and very slow process of a mental and physiological breakdown resulting inevitably in chronic physical and mental abnormality, disease and premature death.”

Ed Lanca, Chairman of the Zimbabwean NSPCA, echoed Stroud’s views.

“There is no sound basis for the removal of wild caught baby elephants to facilities that are ill-equipped nor prepared to provide adequate long-term care for these animals.

"At all times, the welfare of these animals must remain paramount,” Lanca said.

Lanca argued that Chinese tourists should instead be encouraged to visit Zimbabwe and “experience these majestic animals in their natural environment.

“Zimbabwean animals belong to the nation and must be protected. Wildlife remains our heritage.”

The Zimbabwean Conservation Task Force (ZCTF) documented the transport on its Facebook page, along with photos of the trucks and crates the elephants were shipped in.

At the end of its post, ZCTF wrote: “We would like to thank everyone who tried to assist in stopping this terrible event from taking place but unfortunately, we have failed yet again.”

The capture of wild elephants for permanent captivity is illegal in South Africa.

CITES officials in Zimbabwe were asked to comment on the export. There was no response at the time of this writing.

Visit the Conservation Action Trust site for more details on animal conservation efforts.

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