Thursday, December 4, 2014
Soldiers arrange a pyre of elephant tusks and thousands of pieces of worked ivory as they prepare to burn ivory stocks corresponding to roughly 850 dead elephants, in Libreville, Gabon, (Joel Bouopda Tatou/Associated Press)
John Gruetzner is the managing director of Intercedent, an Asian-focused investment advisory. He recently researched for the World Wildlife Fund its fund-raising options within China. The views here expressed are personal.
Chinese basketball star Yao Ming’s new documentary The End of the Wild will, ideally, have the impact in Asia that Silent Spring by Rachel Carson had on environmental awareness in the West.
For this shift to happen in sufficient enough time to save the elephant is contingent on major changes in government policy and also empowering Chinese citizens to join the war against poaching of elephants.
Chinese government indifference still sadly permits the legal carving of elephant tusks that drives the poaching of 70 per cent of the 33,000 African elephants killed annually.
If the wealthy could purchase Panda skins legally, this would rightly offend the Chinese people and be strongly condemned. Elephants are just as important culturally, and as natural a symbol as the Panda.
Wildaid’s slogan is Stop the Killing Now. A corollary is to achieve must be Stop the Carving Now. China’s ivory carving’s industry defense is that it relies only on legally sourced tusks. Incontrovertible evidence proves there is widespread mixing of legal and poached ivory.
Carving of dead elephant parts and all retail sales of ivory of any kind to lower total demand need to be banned worldwide starting in China. Funding the retraining of unemployed carvers will prevent the industry from going underground. Closing down the sale and carving of ivory at the 37 approved factories and 145 retail sites would be a major disruption to the total global demand for tusks.
Bold action long these lines would set a positive example to other countries in the same business. Sending a clear message to tourists that lowers off-shore purchases from Chinese will reduce the amount of tusks that are poached. Further work within China to educate people of the consequences such as supporting of terrorism tied to of smuggling illegal wildlife is essential.
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