06/18/2013, 00.00
CHINA

China, the domestic market for ivory endangers the survival of elephants

One-tenth of elephants on the planet killed last year. Despite the international ban on the ivory trade, the sale of "white gold" in China is lawful and widespread. A researcher: "The species is at risk, Beijing must recognize the problem."

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - "The insatiable Chinese demand for ivory is likely to make the extinction of elephants a real problem". As researcher Jennifer Ngo writes in the South China, trafficking in elephant tusks, which is prohibited by the international community, is an easy trade through Hong Kong.

There are about 400 thousand elephants in the world, divided between Central Africa and the Indian area. In the last year 40 thousand have been killed, explains the activist Joyce Poole "about 93% of these are victims of poachers." Although Beijing signed the international ban on trade in ivory in 1989, the sale of elephant tusks in the territory of China takes place in broad daylight. The so-called "white gold" makes a stop in Hong Kong, where, once avoided any international control, it can be sold in a transparent manner to Chinese buyers.

According to data reported by Elephant Voices Group, a non-governmental organization of which  Joyce Poole is co-director, since 2008 Hong Kong has seen trade in some 16 tons of ivory, an amount that would have required the killing of at least 1800 living elephants. "It's not - says the activist - that the international ban does not work, but the reticence on the part of the Chinese authorities to apply it within their own borders and the increased trade is an incentive for the poachers."

Ivory sells at 700 dollars per kg in China and is a prized symbol of high social status. Joyce Poole who will be engaged in a campaign to raise public awareness in Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Beijing, explains that "the ivory that is on the market today is the result of poaching, not a natural death. A lot of people cannot imagine that in order to get the tusks, the elephant has to be killed".

 

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