Only four months in and China has made 2019 an important year for seizures of endangered species, filing 182 cases, including a 7.48-tonne haul of elephant ivory.
The record haul, totaling 2,748 elephant tusks, was the biggest ivory seizure handled by customs officials in recent years. The bust was part of a coordinated operation across six provinces between customs officials and police, who arrested 26 suspected members of an international trafficking ring. It was triggered after the arrest of a father and two sons, who fled to Southeast Asia to smuggle ivory from Africa into China.
WildAid applauds Chinese authorities for successfully cracking down on ivory smuggling as well as other endangered species products. By investigating cross-border groups, China is taking its commitment to changing consumer behavior and ending elephant poaching seriously.
Their expanded cooperation with overseas counterparts has also given a clear signal that China supports the arrest and sentencing of Chinese nationals on foreign territory, including Yang Fenglan, who played a key role in the slaughter of Tanzania’s elephants.
In January, China Customs, WildAid and WWF launched a publicity campaign with actor Huang Xuan to educate ivory-buying tourists. As China’s median income grows and more people travel authorities have correctly recognized the need to raise awareness among tourists, especially those traveling to places like Laos and Thailand. Many travelers do not know that bringing ivory into China is illegal. Billboards have been placed at roughly 140 locations across China.
Since China’s President Xi announced a ban on domestic sales of ivory in 2017, ivory prices have dropped by more than two-thirds, from US$2,100/kg to less than $700/kg. Other jurisdictions followed as well, including Vietnam, the UK, and the U.S.
WildAid hopes China will continue to educate its people about the devastating effects of trafficking endangered species and lead cross-border investigations for stronger global enforcement of international wildlife laws.
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WildAid is a non-profit organization with a mission to protect wildlife from illegal trade and other imminent threats. While most wildlife conservation groups focus on protecting animals from poaching, WildAid primarily works to reduce global consumption of wildlife products such as elephant ivory, rhino horn and shark fin soup. With an unrivaled portfolio of celebrity ambassadors and a global network of media partners, WildAid leverages more than $308 million in annual pro-bono media support with a simple message: When the Buying Stops, the Killing Can Too.
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