Since we reported last month about Buddhists’ culpability as end consumers in the illegal ivory trade that is decimating wild African elephant populations, some welcome news has surfaced from China about measures to shut down smuggling and change its citizens’ attitude toward ivory.
Yesterday, Chinese authorities staged a widely-reported public demolition of an estimated six tons of raw and carved tusks that they had seized. Given that China accounts for 70 per cent of the market for poached ivory, the ceremony was met with approval by three of the highest-profile NGO’s working to end the illegal ivory trade: WildAid, Save the Elephants, and the African Wildlife Foundation. (See WildAid China’s exclusive video of the “ivory crush” here and their new public service message after the jump.)
China’s ivory demolition underlines the success these charities are beginning to have working with Chinese authorities to undertake a public awareness campaign about the negative impacts of buying ivory (as well as rhino horn and shark fin). WildAid has enlisted a number of celebrities, such as NBA superstar Yao Ming and martial arts actor Jackie Chan, as well as international figures such as Prince William, David Beckham, and Edward Norton, in a series of impactful, anti-cruelty video messages. In terms of ivory poaching, they highlight how in buying carvings made from illegal ivory, many of which have Buddhist themes, the person is directly participating not only in the massacre of as many as 35,000 elephants annually (creating the serious subsidiary problem of orphaned baby elephants) but also supporting genocidal militias—well-known for their use of child soldiers and mass rape—which often dominate the lucrative poaching as a means to fund their atrocities. WildAid released this video, “Fatherhood,” just yesterday:
It seems many in China are getting the message about ivory. Britain’s Independent reported last week that, while it’s still not difficult to find “new ivory” in Chinese markets, recent government crackdowns and convictions, as well as the public awareness campaigns, produced responses like this when the reporter inquired about such contraband among shopkeepers like Ren Wenzhou:
“We used to sell new ivory here but not anymore. Haven’t you seen the news? Ivory is like tiger skins; it harms animals.”
The Independent has been so moved by this subject that they have created their own “Elephant Appeal” to solicit donations in support of Save the Giants, supporting local anti-poaching rangers in Kenya’s game parks.
Carlos Danger says
The thought of harming an animal as awesome as an elephant makes me sad. The thought that people are so poor that they would kill an elephant to feed their family depresses me. The thought that people would have an elephant killed to make a picture frame just disgusts me.
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