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African Elephant Poaching Is On The Rise, Is China To Blame?

An investigation conducted by (CITES) revealed that of all the international passengers busted with illegal ivory, 85 percent were citizens of China.

China has grown to become an indelible economic partner for many African countries. All across Africa there are multi-million dollar projects in various stages of completion awarded to Chinese companies. Concurrent with this development is a rise in African elephant poaching.

Chinese products have also found their way into the African market. Almost every item stocked in the stores is labelled ‘Made in China’, from food, farm inputs to office equipment. That was not the situation a few decades ago. Back Then Africa had stronger ties with the West, particularly the EU and the USA, than it had with the East.

Through the One Belt One Road initiative, China which is arguably the worlds second largest economy has made inroads in African economies and left a trail of development. It is now synonymous to talk about China and development in one sentence.

The One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative is a development strategy forth put in 2013 by president Xi Jinping. It aims at economically connecting all Eurasian countries with China being central to the trading network. OBOR focuses on expanding trade routes through infrastructure development.

In 2008, Ghana and SinoHydro, a Chinese company signed a $562 million dollar deal to construct a dam to improve irrigation and water storage. Other such massive projects can be found all over Africa, mostly in construction of roads, rail and sea ports. This has not sat well with the Western countries, but China has remained relentless.

Underhanded Dealings

China has been of a great importance to Africa, but many fingers have been pointed towards the country, with many accusing it of underhand dealings. This is largely because massive poaching has been reported ever since China entered Africa.

In just three years (2011-2014) poachers killed over 100,000 African elephants. Over 30,000 elephants are estimated to be killed yearly and their tusks crudely cut off. China has the largest ivory market in the world. It also has licensed traders and factories that handle raw ivory.

Is it coincidence?

An investigation conducted by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) revealed that of all the international passengers busted with illegal ivory, 85 percent were citizens of China. They were taking it back home where there is a ready and lucrative market.

Corrupt Government Officials

Ivory trading was marked as illegal in 1990. But China and the United States continued trading in ivory, arguing that it was from elephants killed long before the ban came into effect. The ban created a shortage in the market and because of the law of supply and demand, prices sky-rocketed. Since ivory trading is still legal in China, poacher opportunists jumped at the market opportunity which led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of elephants in Africa. Nabbing them has not always been easy as they often collaborate with corrupt government officials who offer them protection.

Currently, measures to control poaching are being implemented with punitive actions taken against those nabbed in the act. There has also been a global outcry as activists call for protection of the animals.

The president of China, Xi Jinping has abolished all ivory trading in China in a bid to help save the elephant. Only 100 year old ivory antiques can be traded in China now.

Last November the United States drew attention for attempting to lift the U.S. ban on importing elephant trophies. The internet responded with outrage and stood up against poaching. President Trump then upheld the ban pending a review. Whether the newfound attention given to African elephants will result in an increase in their population is to be seen.

Alex Muiruri

Alex is a passionate writer born and raised in Kenya. He is professionally trained as a public health officer but loves writing more. When not writing, he enjoys reading, doing charity work and spending time with friends and family. He is also a crazy pianist!

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