Newswise — One day before China crushed 660 kg of ivory and indicated it would move to stop the processing and domestic sale of ivory, Beijing Customs launched a campaign called “Customs Actions to Protect Endangered Species – Bring No Ivory Home”
The event was a joint effort between Beijing Customs, (WCS) Wildlife Conservation Society. WildAid and the CITES Management Authority of China, and was held at Beijing Capital Airport on May 28th.
At the event, hundreds of travelers signed their names to pledges and had photos taken while holding signs with slogans such as “Bring No Ivory Home” and “Say No to Ivory.” Some made pledges on social media sites, including WeChat and Weibo (the most popular in China) and, with the help of WCS volunteers, visited the “Guarding the Elephants” (www.shouhudaxiang.org) and “Saving the Elephant” website (www.jiudaxiang.org) to learn more.
At the Bring No Ivory Home event, WCS and WildAid worked together to advocate against importing and buying illegal ivory products, and made use of the power of celebrity to educate the public about the law. World famous concert pianist Lang Lang attended the event, signing his name and pledging that he is against ivory consumption.
Lang Lang told the journalists in attendance, “Buying ivory abroad and bringing it back to China does not only perpetuate elephant poaching and disturb the ecological balance, it also defies the law, hurts the economy and risks national security.” He asked that everyone commit to bring no ivory home, support Customs’ efforts, and protect our earth.
In order to send a strong message, the Chinese government crushed approximately 660 kg of ivory products in Beijing on May 29th. The crush demonstrates that the government is committed to preventing ivory from re-entering the market. More significantly, the Chinese government announced its intention to ultimately cease the processing and domestic sale of ivory.
During 2010-2012 about 100,000 elephants were killed in Africa for their tusks, or about 96 elephants every single day. This illegal slaughter has resulted in huge declines in Africa’s savanna elephants, including a 60 percent decline in Tanzania’s elephants between 2009 and 2014 and a 48 percent decline in Mozambique’s elephants over the last five years, as well as a 65 percent decline in Central Africa’s forest elephants between 2002 and 2013.
Many Chinese citizens who travel abroad as tourists try bringing ivory illegally back into China, either because they are unaware that this is illegal or because they are indifferent to the regulations.
Lishu Li, Executive Program Manager of WCS China said, “”For those of us who are Chinese and care deeply about the conservation of biodiversity worldwide and about our nation’s growing role on this planet, it is wonderful to see our government taking two such hugely positive actions in the space of a week–first pledging to phase out domestic ivory working and sales in China last Friday and now insuring that Chinese travelers don’t break our own laws by illegally importing ivory. With these moves, China is taking its place as a leader in global conservation just as it has in global development.”
In addition to Lang Lang, the crowd at the Bring No Ivory Home event met “Parker” – Beijing Customs’ only sniffer dog trained to detect ivory. Parker has been taught to sniff out certain animal products to curb the illegal trade of endangered species.
WCS and WildAid reminded travelers that bringing back into China the body parts of most endangered species purchased abroad is strictly prohibited. In particular, it is illegal to bring ivory, pangolin scales, and rhinoceros horn into China and those transporting these items can be arrested, prosecuted, and sentenced to prison terms.