Tag Archives: Dongguan

Agencies curtail ivory smuggling (China)

China Daily
January 30, 2015
Officers from the State Forestry Administration and the General Administration of Customs destroy 6.1 tons of illegal ivory items in Dongguan, Guangdong province, in January last year. It was the first time China destroyed confiscated elephant ivory. Li Xin / Xinhua
China will continue its efforts to protect African elephants and curb the illegal ivory trade by cracking down on the black market.
“Combating the ivory trade and wildlife smuggling has always been a core task for China’s law enforcement agencies,” said Liu Dongsheng, deputy director of the State Forestry Administration, China’s wildlife watchdog. And they are making a difference, he said.
“The number of illegal wildlife smuggling cases in 2014 dropped 70 percent from 2013,” Liu said. Next, he said, “China will get tougher toward illicit tusks.”
At the same time, China has strengthened its supervision of Internet channels that are providing a fast, covert means of covering up illegal transactions.
According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, at least 18,590 animal-related items were for sale online in the country at the beginning of last year. Nearly 79 percent involved ivory.
The Forestry Administration has guided e-commerce platforms and logistics companies to cease providing the means for illegal trading in animal and plant products, including the means to advertise.
It also encouraged the public to decline, and also report, illegal ivory trade to the administration.
China has long been criticized as the world’s biggest importer of ivory and blamed as being responsible for most African elephant poaching.
A report released by the nonprofit organization Save the Elephants and The Aspinall Foundation in December said skyrocketing demand for ivory in China has led to a smuggling boom that is driving the unsustainable killing of elephants.
The report also said the growing legitimate ivory trade in China is providing a smoke screen for illegal activity. It said “the system is presently out of control”.
Meng Xianlin, executive director general of the Endangered Species Import and Export Management Office of China, said, “The truth is, the ivory market in China is shrinking, and China will gradually cut the number of licenses for retail outlets.
“The weight of authorized raw ivory in China every year is about 5 tons, but actually only 80 percent of that is made into ivory products,” he said. “And the sales numbers are dropping. The investigation found that the sales of illegal ivory products is way smaller than the legal sales.”
Meng also said consumption in China should not be blamed as being the major cause of the extinction of African elephants. Africa should step up to its own responsibility, he said.
John E. Scanlon, secretary-general of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, agreed that it’s not just China’s responsibility. Other countries need to take responsibility for their own plants and animals and take measures to protect them, he said.
“We need support from source, transit and destination countries,” Scanlon said. “China has been dealing with it responsibly as a destination country, showing great leadership through customs and other enforcement departments.
“Source and transit countries should do the same, taking their responsibility seriously and doing what they can. We are in this together.”
Investors banking on continued increases in the price of ivory appear to be a significant factor in the recent boom, according to a report by Save the Elephants.
According to Gao Yufang, executive director of the Everest Snow Leopard Conservation Center, “Ivory products are perceived as a profitable investment alternative. An international ivory trade ban, inflation, depressed real estate and stock markets, growing disposable income, limited investment options and media hype have all contributed to this.”
CITES and China’s wildlife watchdog are planning to explore how the business sector can help to reduce demand.
“If speculation is, or appears likely to be, one of the key drivers of demand for illegally traded ivory, then intervention in this sector through a well-targeted campaign to end the speculation is warranted,” Scanlon said.

Hong Kong a step closer to destroying ivory stockpile

Lana Lam, South China Morning Post
12 January, 2014

Hong Kong could be about to take the lead in the fight against elephant poachers and the criminal networks behind the illicit ivory trade by destroying its huge stockpile of the contraband, said the regional head of an influential wildlife conservation group.

The mainland’s decision last week to crush six tonnes of seized ivory may give Hong Kong the momentum it needs to follow through on its own proposal from two years ago to incinerate its 33-tonne stockpile, said Grace Ge Gabriel, Asia regional director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

“Hong Kong has a very, very big role to play because if they destroy all 33 tonnes of ivory in its stockpile, it will be unprecedented, as that amount has never been destroyed,” Gabriel said.

Demand for ivory has soared in recent years, driven mainly by buyers in Asia, and mainland China in particular. It has led to a devastation of elephant populations not seen since the 1990s, when the problem prompted international action.

Images of ivory being destroyed in Dongguan last Monday sent ripples through the offices of the Agricultural, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) in Hong Kong.

The department’s endangered species advisory committee is responsible for deciding what to do with the stockpile, said Gabriel, who on Friday discussed the issue with two officials.

“They want to destroy the stockpile but the final decision has to come from the committee,” she said. “They have to wait for them to meet, but we have collectively felt this momentum which was not there a year ago, so there is optimism.”

In 2012, the committee rejected a proposal from the department to destroy the city’s stockpile of seized ivory, arguing that it would be wasteful and the ivory should instead be kept for educational purposes.

The department accepted the committee’s recommendation last February, but committee chairman Paul Shin Kam-shing has previously said that he would be happy to return to the issue.

Gabriel said that time had come. “The momentum generated around the world is good and it sends a message to people everywhere that if they had any misgivings that destroying ivory is a waste, now they understand. Ivory is not art, it’s a life; that message is strong.”

She added: “It also takes the burden from having all this contraband which needs to be secured, stored and guarded because of its potential high value.”

The IFAW was part of an alliance of non-governmental organisations that oversaw the Dongguan action and is also working with the French government to destroy stockpiles.

An AFCD spokeswoman said it exchanged views on various conservation issues with NGOs from time to time. It was currently “reviewing the effectiveness of existing disposal measures”, which include donations to schools and universities.

Hong Kong to consider destroying 33-tonne ivory stockpile after Beijing crushes illegal tusks

Joanna Chiu, South China Morning Post
08 January, 2014

Pressure is building on Hong Kong to destroy its 33-tonne ivory stockpile after confiscated ivory was crushed on the mainland for the first time on Monday.

Hong Kong has previously rejected destruction as an option.

A spokeswoman for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said it was “aware of steps in other places to destroy forfeited ivory” and was “reviewing the effectiveness of existing disposal measures”.

She said a revised proposal to destroy Hong Kong’s confiscated ivory would be discussed by the Endangered Species Advisory Committee (ESAC) on January 23.

In Dongguan , Guangdong, diplomats, media and international guests watched as two giant grinders destroyed 6.1 tonnes of ivory sculptures and raw tusks.

The move signalled the willingness of the mainland – the world’s largest ivory market – to play a greater role in wildlife protection. It followed a global conservation conference in March at which China and the United States co-sponsored measures to increase protection for more than 40 species, most of which are threatened by Chinese consumers’ tastes and eating habits.

Local activists welcomed Beijing’s actions and called on Hong Kong to follow suit.

“The time has come to destroy Hong Kong’s stockpile. This will send a strong message to poachers and smugglers that Hong Kong is not a viable trade route, and is a city keen to demonstrate leadership on conservation,” said Gavin Edwards, director of conservation at WWF-Hong Kong.

Hong Kong plays a role in the ivory trade both as a transit point for the mainland and as a consumer in its own right. Last month 14 people were arrested at Chek Lap Kok airport after customs officers seized 160kg of raw tusks and ivory products in their checked baggage.

As pressure builds on Hong Kong, conservationists worry that ESAC – a statutory advisory body made up of university researchers and businesspeople – will reject the proposal.

“The committee has discussed this issue already, but members of the committee have objected in the past,” said Alex Hofford, a campaigner for Hong Kong for Elephants. “However, I think there is still a good chance that the government will follow China on this as Hong Kong tends to follow China’s lead on policy matters.”

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department had conducted a trial in Tsing Yi in 2012 to destroy seized ivory and found incineration – rather than crushing the ivory – to be an effective method of disposal. It later dropped the idea because most of its advisers opposed it.

In June, the Philippines destroyed its five-tonne stockpile of confiscated ivory; and since 1992, three elephant range states in Africa – Zambia, Kenya and Gabon – have incinerated their own stockpiles.

James Compton, senior director at the wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic, said that while destroying stockpiles sent a strong message, governments could choose to hold seized ivory in secure storage.

He said governments choosing to do so should be careful to keep inventories to “provide assurances that ivory does not find its way back into illegal markets, further feeding illegal trade”.