Tag Archives: Guangdong

Illegal Ivory Trade Found in Burma Town

Ivory and leopard skin on display for sale in Mong La, Burma. Credit: Chris Shepherd

Ivory and leopard skin on display for sale in Mong La, Burma. Credit: Chris Shepherd

Joe DeCapua

Last updated on: January 13, 2014 11:09 AM

An undercover team of conservationists has found thousands of pieces of pieces of ivory being sold openly in a town in Burma, also known as Myanmar. The town is on the border with China, where the demand for illegal animal products is high.

The undercover team included members from the conservation organization TRAFFIC and Oxford Brookes University. The team found 3,300 pieces of ivory – as well as 50 raw elephant tusks – in Mong La in Shan State in the northeastern part of the country.

Dr. Chris Shepherd, TRAFFIC’s Regional Director in Southeast Asia, said. “There’s a very large wildlife market full of all different endangered and threatened and illegal species – everything from elephants to tigers, birds, ungulates, all kinds of things. Ivory, we found a shocking amount of ivory — a lot more than we’ve seen in the past there. In the past we’ve seen small amounts, but we didn’t expect to find this much.”

Surveys in the past found a much different trade in animal products.

“That market has largely been species brought in for sale for meat and traditional medicine and some trophies, but not as much. It’s been a lot of deer brought in daily for meat, civets, smaller cats, otters, those sorts of things. And then trophies – some cat skins and antlers and horns of species,” he said.

Shepherd said that it’s difficult to tell how much of the illegal animal products in the town came from Africa.

“We did find products that were from Africa — hippo teeth, for example. So, it’s likely. And also the volume of the ivory. It would be terrifying if it was all from Asian elephants given the state of Asian elephants.”

TRAFFIC will report its findings to government officials in Burma and China. Both countries are members of CITES – the Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

“There are tools to use to tackle this trade to ensure that it’s not crossing the border and that the markets are eventually shutdown, said Shepherd.

He added that China has been doing more than most countries to crackdown on the illegal ivory trade. However, he said more must be done to prevent a repeat of what was found in the Burmese border town.

For example, he said, “The need for reducing demand in China, for the ivory. We’ve got to kill the market, kill the demand. And I think that’s an incredibly important step. The other, though, is enforcement and that’s enforcement within China, enforcement within Myanmar, and cooperation between the two countries. And using CITES as a tool, really, to collaborate and to put this tool into action and shutdown these cross border markets.”

Last week, China publicly destroyed six tons of confiscated ivory in Guangdong.

The above  article can be found in the following link:  http://www.voanews.com/content/burma-ivory-13jan14/1828941.html

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”.

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.”