China illegally trafficking wildlife from Africa

China, known for trafficking wild fauna and flora for medicinal use as well as for food consumption, is once again in the spotlight for illegally trafficking wildlife from Africa.

ANI | Beijing | Updated: 18-08-2021 13:15 IST | Created: 18-08-2021 13:15 IST
China illegally trafficking wildlife from Africa
Conservation officials burning tonnes of seized ivory horn (Photo Credit - Reuters). Image Credit: ANI
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China, known for trafficking wild fauna and flora for medicinal use as well as for food consumption, is once again in the spotlight for illegally trafficking wildlife from Africa. The ADM Capital Foundation had in a report (2019) mentioned that the illegal wildlife trade has been dominated by demand from the 'Traditional Chinese Medicines (TCM)' for the past 10 years, reported International Forum for Rights and Security (IFFRAS).

While the TCMs are the main driver of the illegal wildlife trade from Africa, the appetite for jewellery made of ivory, the furniture industry in China and the display of animals for entertainment also drove the illegal trade. Monkeys, cheetah, tigers, rhinos, lions and meerkats are trafficked from African forests for display in circuses, theme parks, zoos and safari parks.

These animals are also supplied to laboratories for conducting experiments. Endangered species such as elephants, tigers, rhinos and pangolins have been poached in Africa to supply the rising demand of the USD 45 billion (annual) TCM industry, reported IFFRAS.

There is little proof that the wildlife species used in TCM have any medicinal benefits. Despite this, China instead of adopting steps to curb the illegal trade of wildlife, practices double standards. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) studies of 2013 reveal that smuggling of high-value wildlife, from Africa, has the involvement those who trade in the smuggling of illegal goods such as drugs, reported IFFRAS.

Chinese criminal groups in South Africa, with connections to the Chinese triads 14K and the Wo Shing Wo in Hong Kong, were also found to be active in the rhino horn trade from East Africa to China, reported IFFRAS. In July 2020, a court in Malawi sentenced nine members of the continent's most notorious Chinese wildlife smuggling gang led by a husband-wife duo 'Lin-Zhang' to prison for trafficking rhinoceros' horn, ivory, hippopotamus teeth and scales from pangolins in Africa.

Recently, a Chinese national was charged (mid-June), by the Mozambican authorities, for possessing about 10 kilograms of dried seahorses, who wanted to smuggle these to China for use in the TCM as an aphrodisiac. According to the UNODC report (July 2020) a significant portion of 140,000 elephants (2006-16) in Africa fell to poaching to extract 1000 tons of illegal ivory.

During 2015-19, China was the destination for about 32 per cent of total ivory seized and 22 per cent of those arrested (2009-18) for ivory trafficking were Chinese nationals. Similarly, in the case of Rhino horns, 39 per cent of the seizures (2002-19) were destined for China and 31 per cent of those arrested (2010-17) for trafficking of rhino horns were Chinese nationals, reported IFFRAS.

China has made huge investments in Africa under its 'Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)', a new avatar of its 'Silk Road', encompassing terrestrial and maritime routes connecting China with Africa through infrastructure investments. Given that China is a major player in the illegal wildlife trade; its BRI opens up new opportunities for operators in this trade, IFFRAS reported. The concerns about trafficking of wild fauna and flora have grown in the public consciousness and have risen on the international agenda, as it becomes evident that wildlife crime has negative implications for climate change, preservation of biodiversity and public health.

Moreover, the outbreak of COVID-19 and its global impact has also brought the illegal wildlife trade into the spotlight. With the origin of the disease linked to a meat market in Wuhan, China, the world was again reminded of the country's taste of wildlife, resulting in calls to end the illegal wildlife trade.

African countries need to be extra vigilant to curb the loot of their wildlife and invoke clear and specific domestic laws to prohibit the trade, says IFFRAS. (ANI)

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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