ADDIS ABABA — China says it is committed to collaborating with African countries and international stakeholders in combating illegal wildlife trade.
Speaking at a workshop on “addressing wildlife trafficking” on May 14 in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, La Yifan, Chinese Ambassador to Ethiopia noted that the Chinese government has been taking various measures to address illegal ivory trade and to protect wildlife resources.
He said China works closely with African governments and other regional and international bodies to address illegal ivory trade.
The one-day workshop was organized by China’s Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network in collaboration with the Chinese Embassy in Ethiopia under the theme, “refusing illegal wildlife trade.”
Zhou Fei, Head of China Program of the Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network said the workshop was organized to raise awareness among the Chinese community in Ethiopia and discuss ways of addressing wildlife trafficking from Africa.
He told Xinhua that the workshop in Addis Ababa is the second in its kind following the one held in Nairobi, Kenya in January 2014.
Due to its geographical position, Ethiopia is a transit hub for ivory and other wildlife products, noted Dawud Mume, Director General of the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA).
Almost every day ivory is impounded after Ethiopia has stepped up its law enforcement measures, said the Director General, a large share of the seizures happening at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa.
“We know that the illegal hunting and trade in ivory and rhino horn is increasingly organized by criminal gangs, otherwise also involved in drugs, weapons, and human trafficking. There is also evidence that ivory is used to fund international terrorism,” he said.
The Director General said that the country intends to intensify controls, including scanning the checked-in luggage and to further implement educational measures about the illegality of transferring ivory across international boundaries.
Ethiopia has recently destroyed illegal tusks and ivory items intercepted over the past several years in different parts of the country and on transit at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, demonstrating the country’s commitment to fighting against illegal ivory trade, said the official.
Paul Harrison, Global Advisor on Wildlife Enforcement at the UN Development Program (UNDP), underlined the need to have collaborated efforts at international, regional, national and local levels to address the threat against wildlife resources.
He said UNDP stands with committed nations, and others including key NGOs and partners in tackling the menace together.