By BUKOLA OGUNSINA, Beijing, China.
As illegal trade of wildlife continues, the fabric of the eco system is becoming distorted. The earth needs the preservation of wildlife to prevent extinction of endangered species and maintain the balance in the cycle of life in order to save humanity. China has plans to work with Africa and other countries for such a project. BUKOLA OGUNSINA writes.
China has said that it will strengthen its protection of the wildlife through new policies that will issue out penalties ranging from payment of heavy fines by offenders, to lifetime imprisonment. This the Deputy Director General (DDG) of Wildlife Conservation and Nature Reserves Management of State Forestry Administration (SFA), Wang Weisheng said during a recent visit by African journalists who are participants of China Africa Press Centre (CAPC), as well as staff and senior officials of CAPC and China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry to their offices.
“China is a country with a lot of special and rare wild life species. To protect wild life China has established a legislative framework on wildlife conservation,” he noted as he made a brief presentation. The laws include; law for wildlife conservation, forest law, law on protection of environment and criminal law.
In his statement he averred that China plans to resolutely combat illegal wildlife trade and attached importance to differentiating between legal and illegal wildlife trade. “The laws and regulations of China prescribes severe penalties for those who disobey the above legal requirements, from confiscating the wildlife or their products, fining up to 10 times of the actual value of concerned goods, to life imprisonment,” he said.
In respect to the legislation on illegal wildlife trade, Wang pointed out in his presentation that according to laws and regulations of China, activities concerning sale, purchase, commercial use, transportation, personal carrying of protected wildlife or their products should be with permits issued by wildlife authorities. “Special permits are needed for trade in protection of wild life in China,” he said.
He emphasised on the steady increase of over 200 endangered species including Giant Panda, Crested Ibis, Asian Elephant, and Tibet Antelope in China.
Similarly, Wang said that China is presently stopping trade in commercial ivory and related products and the possession and selling of ivory products, as a result of poaching of wildlife in Africa of elephants, rhinoceros mainly targeted for their tusks and horns.
In terms of financial aid, the country has contributed the equivalent of over 20,000,000 US dollars funding for protection of wildlife in Africa.
In a report given by the state officials, while the basic principles on wildlife conservation in China includes enhancement of public education towards the ills of the illegal trade in wildlife and expansion of international cooperation with other countries, it has equally prioritised the regularisation of utilising stricter monitoring and law enforcement among others.
The Deputy Director of Information Division, National Forestry Bureau, Li Tiansong also confirmed that forestry has played an important role in China’s reconstruction, as forest reforms and people’s livelihood both have a strong connection. He added that illegal trade of wildlife was tops among the disturbing topics the media would like to see fully addressed.
The Deputy Director General of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) , Ms Zhou Zhihua, stressed that the organisation is tasked with improving legislation which encompasses the regulation of import and export of wild animals and plants and the rescue of endangered species. She cited examples such as the golden monkey and cycads among others. She also noted that CITES was improving international cooperation through exchanges with ASEAN, the United States, Germany, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia, India, Nepal, South Africa among others. She further pointed out the ban that has been placed on Rhino horn and Tiger bone since 1993.
“We have suspended import of ivory carving, hunting trophy and pre convention specimens of African elephants,” she added.
Zhou noted that CITES prioritises its improvement of public awareness through events such as ‘World Wild Life Day,’ and also by dissemination of brochures placed at airports and subways and establishing activities at key events such as G20, while also sending short messages to Chinese citizens who travel abroad.
The Deputy Secretary General of China Wild life Conservation Association, (CWCA) Ms Guo Lixin also added her voice, attesting that CWCA has made efforts in promoting China’s Wildlife resources, establishing the ‘Love the Birds week,’ to involve bird watching activities among others, while educating the youth on the importance of wild life conservation. She corroborated the government’s efforts of establishing more activities to create awareness of the project through numerous festivals with focus on wild life animals, and educating teenagers on the preservation of wildlife.
According to her presentation CWCA has established international cooperation partnership with over ten countries on the studies of the Giant Panda. Its motto is ‘We will work with friends from different social sectors and countries to promote wildlife conservation and build a beautiful homeland where human and nature live in harmony.’
Meanwhile in Africa, disparities were pointed out regarding how both parties tackle the issue of wild life preservations. Some communities in Africa due to frequent attacks of the populace by wild animals such as elephants, Lions among others and damages being done to their crops, are not keen on protecting wildlife animals.
According to Wang, the officials in China plan to tackle the threat some animals may pose to farmers and their farmlands by building walls around villages to prevent attacks of farmlands and human by elephants, while also making payments in form of compensation to farmers whose farmlands and crops have been destroyed as a means to encourage more people to accept the preservation of wildlife. Its aim is to build an eco-friendly lifestyle, with reasoning that if forests are damaged, the animals who shelter there will have no place to inhabit and as such roam residential areas, disturbing the populace. Equally the use of wood for source of energy by people is also currently being discouraged to preserve the forests and maintain a healthy eco system.
Wang noted that China has signed the wildlife conservation with Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania. “If some other African countries hope to enhance cooperation in this field with China, they should make it known to the government,” he said.
As wildlife trade becomes popular globally with endangered species facing threat of extinction through poaching among other illegalities, China welcomes other countries and governments to join in this project, to share ideas for further enhancement of wildlife protection globally.