Ivory Poachers Must be Punished to Raise Awareness of Wildlife Protection


China Daily

Date Published

Two Chinese ivory poachers, who were caught in possession of more than 700 elephant tusks in Tanzania, were each sentenced to 30 years in prison or a fine of about $23 million. Tao Duanfang, a columnist, commented on Saturday:

That the two Chinese ivory smugglers refused to acknowledge their offenses or accept the sentence, to some extent, points to the fact that local wildlife resources in many African countries, although abundant, are not under proper protection.

Some see the African elephants, for example, as tradable and profitable goods; some even resent them for destroying their farmland.

Despite the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which took effect in 1975 and which China joined in 1981, Chinese tourists with ivory items can always manage to bypass the security checks in Africa.

The bigger irony is that they would face stricter checks when they enter China.

There is good news, though, as some Eastern African states including Tanzania and Kenya, have imposed harsher punishments on ivory smugglers, some of whom are Chinese.

Tanzania’s latest sentence involving two Chinese poachers demonstrates that justice, although belatedly done for the sake of local wildlife, is now a major concern for some African countries.

For years, a number of African countries, suffering from poverty and underdevelopment, preferred to trade local natural resources for tangible wealth, disregarding the need to protect their wild fauna and flora.

Some Africans even deemed environmental and wildlife protection as a privilege of the rich and a hindrance to improving their lives. It is thus a notable leap for them to take into account better protection of endangered species.

As a long-time contributor to various African economies, China has every reason to protect its good image from being tarnished by some smugglers and their illegal activities in Africa. It is time for China to take actions to raise awareness of the issue.