Chinese animal activist fights to expose ivory trade industry


Liling Tan, CGTN

Date Published

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A Chinese journalist and wildlife activist who went undercover to expose the ivory trade in Africa, in the acclaimed Netflix documentary, “The Ivory Game.”

We sat down with Huang Hongxiang for a frank conversation about the role China plays in wildlife exploitation, and Chinese activism in Africa.

CGTN’s Liling Tan Reports

Armed with a background in journalism and a love for animals, Huang Hongxiang posed as an ivory buyer to capture a Ugandan dealer in the gripping 2016 Netflix documentary “The Ivory Game.”

“Since I was very young, I already loved animals a lot, so I always wished someday I can do something to help protect animals. And then when in 2013, I got to learn all those ivory trade and elephant poaching in Africa, and then I got to realize China’s role in it,” said Huang Hongxiang wildlife activist and founder of China House.

That realization prompted him to address China’s appetite for ivory, AND confront misconceptions about the Chinese topics he readily took on when we attended his presentation at Columbia University.

“When it comes to ivory trade, many non-Chinese people will feel all Chinese eat dogs, all Chinese buy ivory, all Chinese don’t care about elephants and so on because Chinese is the number one ivory market in the world. And when it comes to the Chinese people, they have a lot of misunderstanding as well. 

“Not many of them actually know you need to kill elephants to get ivory. Not many of them know what is wildlife conservation and what are those NGOs. Many Chinese people think that ivory trade is just a tool used by the anti-China westerners to attack China. Sometimes I feel the two sides have a lot of misunderstanding about each other and therefore they are not working together. 
“There’s ivory, where China is the number one market. Rhino horn, China is the second market. Pangolin trade, sharks fin, South African abalone, rosewood, there’s so many so many issues that are related to China, and for all those issue we wish to get involved because I believe China needs to be part of the solution and we want to be part of that solution,”  Huang said.

To do that, Huang in 2014 set up China House in Kenya to connect Chinese overseas investment with sustainable development.

It brings young, bilingual Chinese professionals to Africa, Latin America and other developing regions to bridge differences and change the game in wildlife conservation.