Tag Archives: Beijing

TRAFFIC’s e-commerce monitoring reveals shifting illegal wildlife trade market in China

TRAFFIC Press Release
March 3, 2015
Beijing, China, 3rd March 2015—Transactions for illegal wildlife products, particularly ivory, are shifting away from online retailers and onto social media platforms according to TRAFFIC’s research into the Chinese-language online retail community.
This is a key finding of a new report, Moving targets: Tracking online sales of illegal wildlife products in China (PDF, 1 MB), which discloses the results of routine market monitoring of China’s online retailers that began in 2006 and is released today, World Wildlife Day.
At its peak in March 2012, more than 4,000 new advertisements per month for illegal wildlife products were appearing online on Chinese language online retail websites, finds the new report. More than half of the illegal products offered comprised ivory items.
However, following advertisement removal and blocking of code words used to describe illegal products through regular exchange with e-commerce and enforcement agencies by TRAFFIC, this fell dramatically to around 1,500 from July 2012 and has remained around that level ever since.
“Major online retailers in China have been important allies in efforts to stamp out illegal wildlife trade, and their efforts have resulted in a sustained decrease in advertisements for such goods, yet the high number of such advertisements remains of concern and we are also seeing a shift in the way such transactions now take place,” said Zhou Fei, Head of TRAFFIC’s China Office.
One change has been an increase in the number of code words used by sellers to conceal the identity of their goods, from 15 code words used in 2012 to 64 identified and monitored by TRAFFIC today. At least 22 code words exist for ivory, including terms such as “African materials, yellow materials, white plastic, jelly”.
All 64 code words are searched each month by TRAFFIC on 25 e-commerce and antique selling websites for eight wildlife products — ivory, rhino horn, Tiger bone, hawksbill shells, pangolin scales, leopard bones, Saiga horn and Hornbill casques.
There has also been evidence of the move to social media, where dealers release photos and information about illegal wildlife products in order to attract and interact with potential customers. Some dealers also use “agents” to extend their audiences by re-posting the information about illegal wildlife products onto their own social media platform.
“The shift into the secretive world of social media marketing creates a whole new suite of challenges, with enforcement agencies constantly seeking to keep one step ahead of the traffickers,” said Yannick Kuehl, TRAFFIC’s Regional Director for East and South Asia.
“Monitoring and policing this underground marketplace must become a top enforcement priority—it appears criminals are using it to carry out their clandestine activities.”
1. China has the world’s biggest online community with an estimated USD 274.6 billion spent in online trade in 2014.
2. The number of new illegal wildlife products observed by TRAFFIC online fell dramatically, as did the total number of such advertisements: In January 2012, TRAFFIC discovered almost 30,000 advertisements for five illegal wildlife products on 15 websites then surveyed. This rose to more than 50,000 in the next two months but dropped again in April 2012 to around 30,000 after TRAFFIC contacted and shared the monitoring results with website managers, several of whom immediately deleted the identified advertisements.
Number of monthly new wildlife products advertisements (January 2012-September 2014)
Number of total illegal wildlife product advertisements in monitored Chinese-language websites (January 2012-September 2014)
3. Download Moving targets: Tracking online sales of illegal wildlife products in China (PDF, 1 MB).
4. TRAFFIC was founded in 1976 and is the leading non-governmental organization working globally on trade in wild animals and plants.
5. This project is implemented in co-operation with GIZ, on behalf of and financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
6. Other donors included WWF-UK
For more information,please contact: Sammi Li, Communication Officer, TRAFFIC, Email: Xiaojia.li@traffic.org

Elephants face extinction if Beijing does not ban ivory trade

Posted by Africa Geographic Editorial in News

Original source: Daily Mail

China needs to act now on the country’s illegal ivory trade to stop elephants becoming extinct, according to one conservationist.

ivory

China accounts for 40 per cent of the world’s trade in elephant tusks, with many bound for the country intercepted by customs officials in Hong Kong

Joyce Poole, co-director of Elephant Voices, said the creatures had experienced their worst year in history, with more than 7 per cent killed for their tusks in only a year.

She called for China to tackle the country’s appetite for ivory to save the remaining 400,000 elephants from extinction, and said the species would be extinct within a decade if poaching continued at the current rate.

Nearly 40,000 elephants are killed for their tusks every year, Poole told the South China Morning Post.

‘It’s either China does something, or we lose the elephants. It’s that big,’ she said.

‘If we can’t even save the elephants – such an iconic keystone animal, important to the African habitat – then what hope do we have?’

Ivory is known as ‘white gold’ in China, she said, and is symbol of wealth and status.

A worldwide ban on ivory was imposed in 1989, with two sanctioned sales of stock to China and Japan in 1999 and 2007.

Hong Kong customs officials have seized at least 16 tonnes of ivory worth HK$87million (more than £7million) bound for China in the past five years – which would require the tusks of 1,800 elephants, the paper reported.

About 93 per cent of elephant carcasses have been found to have been killed by poachers, said Poole, who has researched elephants for 40 years.

One elephant would earn an African poacher the same as a typical annual salary, she told the newspaper.

‘I think many people don’t know that you can’t get the tusks [for ivory] without killing the elephants,’ Poole said.

‘[Beijing is] still in denial that they have any part to play. Ivory isn’t worth much to the [Chinese] economy, but losing the elephants will make a huge difference to African countries.’ – Daily Mail

This article can be found in the following link: http://africageographic.com/blog/elephants-face-extinction-if-beijing-does-not-ban-ivory-trade/

Staff at the Airport Smuggled Ivory with a “Pass”

Yan Fei, Morning Post
Feb. 22, 2014

According to Beijing Morning Post, Liang, a staff from the Beijing Capital Airport Power& Energy Co., Ltd, taking advantage of possessing the pass of the Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA), has smuggled ivory into China, with an amount of more than 1 million RMB. It is reported that, Liang was accused of smuggling precious animal products, and sentenced to imprisonment of 10 years and 6 months. His partner was sentenced to prison for 11 years.
Liang was the staff of Beijing Capital Airport Power& Energy Co., Ltd. According to the investigation report from the court, Yang was incited by Liang to carry 31 pieces of ivory products with his suitcase on Sep. 29, 2012, departing from the Republic of Togo, and arrived at the BCIA on Sep.30, 2012, via several nations. Yang handed two laptop bags with ivory products in it, to Liang, who was arranged by Yang, at the men’s bathroom. Because of the pass that Liang had, he was able to escape from the monitoring of the customers, and trafficked in the illicit ivory products. On that day, both suspects were arrested on the spot. The total value of the smuggled ivory was estimated to be more than 1 million RMB.
Considering that Liang has confessed truthfully of his crime, the court gave him a lesser punishment, however both of them have been charged of smuggling precious animal products.

Ivory is the real draw at Beijing centre

BY MALCOLM MOORE, LONDON DAILY TELEGRAPH
FEBRUARY 11, 2014

With its sleek glass and wood exterior, the Tianya Antiques City is a temple to modern Chinese
craftsmanship. Inside, the traders sell their wares from boutique stalls more like museums than
markets – jade, emerald and coral.

But the real draw for visitors to the Beijing centre is also its most controversial: ivory.

As a high-level summit to combat wildlife trafficking and poaching opens in London Wednesday,
hosted by the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge, shifting Chinese attitudes toward
ivory will be one of the most important goals, given that it is the world’s most populous nation
with a strong appetite for elephant tusk.

It will not be easy, as Fu Junjun, who works at her father’s ivory shop in the 11-floor market,
testified. “The price of ivory keeps going up, and the government’s decision to destroy that ivory
stockpile actually helped us,” she said, referring to the recent crushing of about 5.5 tonnes by
Chinese authorities. “The smaller stores now find it harder to get a good supply, but bigger
stores like us have hardly felt any impact and it helped put the price up.”

Ivory is legal in China provided it comes from a government-registered dealer, and there
continues to be a significant demand – partly as an increasingly valuable commodity and partly
because, according to the principles of feng shui, ivory can “disperse misfortune and drive out
evil spirits”.

In 2008, the international community allowed four African countries – Namibia, Zimbabwe,
South Africa and Botswana – to sell their stockpiles of ivory to Japan and China for $15 million in
an attempt to control the slaughter of elephants.

All of the ivory available in China is technically supposed to have come from that auction, and
each carving carries its own certificate of provenance. But environmentalists warn that there is
rampant cheating in the system and that illegal ivory  is easily laundered. A survey by IFAW in
2011 found that, of 158 shops and carving factories in Beijing, Shanghai, Fuzhou and Guang-
zhou, 101 were not licensed, or were selling smuggled ivory.

At Panjiayuan, Beijing’s biggest curio market, dealers said they had no elephant tusk on offer.
But when asked if they wanted to buy an unlicensed piece of ivory, several asked to take a look.

“I have bought cheap ivory online,” said Xu Song, a 25-year-old carver. “I cannot say whether
they were smuggled or not, but they are cheap, so I suppose so.

“Perhaps the biggest legacy of the decision to allow ivory auctions is that it has convinced the
Chinese that ivory is no longer a desperately endangered commodity. I do not think the supply
of ivory is a problem. We have not really thought about it.”

On the upside, the Chinese have discovered a new commodity that is now rivalling elephant
ivory in desirability: woolly mammoth ivory. Each summer, hundreds of tusks are dug up in
Siberia and sent south for carving.

Article at the following link:
http://www.thestarphoenix.com/Ivory+real+draw+Beijing+centre/9493078/story.html

2 charged with illegally selling ivory artworks

By (ChinaDailyUSA)

Beijing

Prosecutors in Xicheng district said on Tuesday that they have charged two people with illegally selling ivory. The suspects, named Liu and Ye, are accused of processing nearly 14 kilograms of ivory, valued at 600,000 yuan ($99,300), and selling it to the public. Since June 2010, the two had rented a room to process and sell artworks made of wood and ivory without a business license, said prosecutors.

The above article can be found in the following link: http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/epaper/2014-01/15/content_17237454.htm

Ivory trade: A security as well as an environmental concern

Voice of Russia

February 3, 2014
Top level government representatives from 50 countries will gather this month to apply pressure on China to clamp down on ivory consumption within its borders. A growing Chinese middle class has stoked demand for the luxury material, leading to a killing spree in Africa. But there is also a deeper security concern – African militia and criminal groups sell the ivory for cash, which they use to buy weapons. Natasha Moriarty investigates.

The summit aims to bring together top-level government representatives from 50 countries and for the first time it is hoped one of China’s vice premiers will attend.

Prince William is expected to make a speech at the conference, which will be attended by Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague. US Secretary of StateJohn Kerry will also be present, along with the leaders of several African countries.

Organisers hope that Chinese media icons Jackie Chan – the actor – and Yao Ming – the 7ft 6in former basketball star – will attend, to ensure the conference receives widespread coverage in China.

Andrew Leun, an independent expert on China, says:

“There’s an important role to be played by media icons like Jackie Chan .. the Chinese want to stand tall in the world not just because of the growth of the economy but because they embrace world values … nationalism and pride will play a big role in stamping out the ivory trade.”

China drives ivory trade

The explosive growth of China’s emerging middle class has brought with it sweeping economic change and social transformation – and a rapacious appetite for ivory.

China is responsible for over 70 percent of global demand for illegal ivory, and the Chinese are also the world’s leading consumers of tiger bone soup and rhino horn cures.

Without the demand from China, conservationists say the illegal ivory trade would all but dry up.

The Chinese have coveted ivory for centuries. Hand-carved ivory objects are proudly displayed in Chinese homes to symbolise wealth and status.

But now, unprecedented numbers are able to afford the precious material.

China’s economic boom has created a vast upper-middle class, and this new consumer group has caused the price of ivory to triple on the streets of Beijing.

Slaughter in Africa

Tens of thousands of African elephants are now being slaughtered to meet the demand. Last year, poaching in Africa was at its highest level since an international ban on ivory was applied in 1989.

Conservationists say the frenzy of killing now threatens the future survival of elephants.

Though much of the ivory traded is illegal, loopholes in trade regulations allow the sale of ivory in some circumstances. Countries like South Africa and Zimbabwe – where elephant populations are stable – are allowed to sell trophy licences that allow hunters to bring ivory across borders. Ivory obtained before the international ban is also legal – which provides an effective smokescreen for criminal trade.

Will Travers of Born Free says:

“China is the biggest market because in 2008 the international community decided it was acceptable to sell some stockpiled ivory to China and Japan to satisfy demand … what it did was it stimulated demand…”

But global leaders are not motivated by concern for elephants and rhinos alone. They smell danger.

Links with armed groups

The underground ivory trade is increasingly militarised. Militia groups sell ivory, and use this cash to buy weapons.

Organized crime syndicates link up with them to move the ivory around the world, exploiting turbulent states, porous borders and corrupt officials from sub-Saharan Africa all the way to China.

Links have been established with Africa’s most notorious armed groups, al-Shabaab –the al-Qaeda cell group involved in the recent Westgate Mall siege in Nairobi – and central Africa’s Lord’s Resistance Army.

Last week, the UN Security Council made moves to impose international sanctions and freeze the assets of illegal wildlife traffickers.

We spoke to Charlie Mayhew, CEO of conservation group Tusk Trust, about the security concerns.

Conference focus

The London conference will focus on four objectives: strengthening law enforcement; reducing demand; international collaboration; and helping Africa communities to find sources of income linked to protecting the animals rather than killing them. Higher penalties for poaching and  smuggling will be a key topic of discussion.

All 38 African countries with elephants have agreed that their highest priority is to protect their elephants.

Conservationists hope the conference will herald an era when concern for animal welfare – rather than expensive trinkets – will be the hottest status symbol in China.

Two charged with illegally selling ivory artworks (China)

China Daily

January 14, 2014

Prosecutors in Beijing’s Xicheng district said on Tuesday that they have charged two people suspected of illegally selling ivory.

The two suspects, surnamed Liu and Ye, allegedly processed nearly 14 kilograms of ivory, valued at about 600,000 yuan ($99,300), and sold it to the public, the prosecutors said.

Since June 2010, the two had rented a room to process and sell artworks made of wood and ivory without any business license, according to the prosecuting authority.

At first, the pair only processed wood artworks but, from April 2013, they started making products of ivory because they realized the profits were much higher than for wood artworks, the prosecutors said.

“I know it is illegal to make ivory products, but what I didn’t think the fees for the artistry are illegal,” Liu told the prosecutors after arrest.

Zhang Lei, one of the district’s prosecutors, said Asian and African elephants in the wild face extinction and must be protected.

As per a judicial interpretation issued by the top court, people who illegally buy, transport or sell wild animals that are endangered species, or products from those animals, must be punished, Zhang added.

Article at the following link:

Anti-elephant poaching story goes viral in China

mongabay.com
December 20, 2013

A newspaper story about the impact of the ivory trade has gone viral in China, raising awareness among millions of Chinese, reports the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

The story, published November 15 in Southern Weekly  has been shared widely across Chinese web sites and social media, according to the conservation group.

“The total views of the original Southern Weekly Tweets and Retweets on Weibo (China’s Twitter/Facebook hybrid) exceeded 10 million. Most of these “netizens,” or members of the Chinese online public, were from Tier 1 Chinese cities (Beijing, Chongqing, Guangdong), the most significant consumers of ivory,” said WCS in a statement.

“The article was reposted on 24 online discussion forums or Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) including Mop and Tianya, two of the most popular in China. Thousands of comments were generated on the Tianya BBS forum alone. Overall over 5,000 comments on the article were posted on Weibo, BBS fora, and other websites.”

The story received wide play outside environmental news, being picked up on finance sites, according to WCS.

“This represents an important shift for the topic of ivory from the specialist environmental pages to the mainstream debate,” said the group.

The article, titled “The Blood Ivory: Behind the Largest Ivory Smuggling Cases in China”, identified Chinese consumption as the main driver of elephant poaching. It noted links between the ivory trade and terror and rebel groups in Africa.

The ivory trade has exploded in recent years due to surging demand from middle class consumers in China. Conservationists estimate that up to 35,000 elephants may have been killed in 2012 alone.

The carnage has spurred several NGO’s, including WCS, to step up campaigns targeting both the supply and demand sides of the trade. In September, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) gave these efforts a boost when it launched a massive push to catalyze support for stopping “blood ivory”.

But reaching Chinese buyers has remained a challenge. Therefore WCS welcomed the news that elephant ivory is now garnering attention in China.

“To have the influential mainstream media make the link between the elephant crisis and the Chinese demand for ivory is hugely significant,” Cristián Samper, WCS President and CEO, said in a statement.

“In China, it’s not just what is said but who says it,” added Joe Walston, Executive Director of WCS’s Asia Program. “To have the Southern Weekly give its front page to an article highlighting China’s role in the ivory trade is monumental. This is no longer a fringe topic.”

Shark Fin Victory May Offer Hope for Elephants

China Digital Times
October 22, 2013

On the China in Africa Podcast, Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden and Huang Hongxiang gloomily discuss prospects for decisive action from Beijing to stop the Chinese-fueled slaughter of elephants for ivory. The problem, Huang suggests, is that the issue has yet to gain momentum among the public.

At The Washington Post, though, Simon Denyer highlights a collapse in demand for shark fins following concerted campaigning and a government crackdown on ostentatious official banquets. This success may yet offer hope for Africa’s elephants.

“People said it was impossible to change China, but the evidence we are now getting says consumption of shark fin soup in China is down by 50 to 70 percent in the last two years,” said Peter Knights, executive director of WildAid, a San Francisco-based group that has promoted awareness about the shark trade. The drop is also reflected in government and industry statistics.

“It is a myth that people in Asia don’t care about wildlife,” Knights said. “Consumption is based on ignorance rather than malice. ”

[…] Buoyed by the results of the shark fin campaign, conservationists are now turning their attention to the trade in ivory and rhino horn. Some 25,000 elephants were poached last year, and 668 rhinos killed in South Africa alone, with China the largest market for ivory, and the second largest for rhino horn behind Vietnam.

[… A]ttitudes can change, and the Chinese government is not intransigent. A major investor in Africa, it does not want to be seen as the reason for widespread insecurity caused by poaching. In September, it started sending text messages to every Chinese cellphone user who touched down in Kenya, warning them to “not carry illegal ivory, rhino horn or any other wildlife.“