In a protest co-organized by the Chinese Embassy and the Tanzania-China Friendship Promotion Association, more than 500 people took to the streets of Dar es Salaam, Tanzanian’s capital, Saturday over the rise in the ivory trade.
The Chinese ambassador to Tanzania, Ambassador Lu Youqing, was among the protesters who walked five kilometers across the city of Dar es Salaam, calling on the Tanzanian government to intensify its fight against illegal poaching.
“I want more of our people to know that the animals, the wildlife, are the best friends of human beings. Everyone should be involved in protecting wildlife because we are one family,” Ambassador Youqing told VOA News.
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Chinese Market for African Ivory
Every year, thousands of elephants are brutally killed across Africa for their tusks, with National Geographic revealing that more than 60 percent of Tanzanian elephants has vanished over the last five years.
Investigations in to the thriving trade of ivory in Africa have revealed the existence of a voracious market for the commodity in East Asia, particularly in China.
Many African governments, including Tanzania, have often accused the Chinese government of failing to put a stop to the illegal trade, which they claim has led to the continued massive slaughter of the indigenous beasts.
However, the Chinese community in Tanzania has come out to dispel the negative notion that all Chinese support ivory trade.
“We’re doing this so the world can know that not all Chinese are bad; there are many good Chinese people as well,” Hongxiang Huang, an investigative journalist and conservationist, said.
Fight Against Illegal Poaching
The Chinese community in Tanzania said it was disappointed by the news of Chinese nationals being involved in the illegal trade of ivory in Africa.
The peaceful procession served as an opportunity to educate Chinese expatriates in Tanzania about the dangers of illegal poaching of elephants and other wild animals in Africa.
The walk, which involved various local celebrities and activists, came a few days after the Chinese government announced that it will be closing its domestic ivory market by the end of 2017.
Many conservationists have welcomed the announcement, saying it will have a major impact on the fight against poaching in Africa and around the world.
Ambassador Youqing insisted that China is committed to supporting Tanzania in the fight against poaching, and he added that they intend to make the march an annual event.
The elephant population in Africa is estimated to have plummeted by more than 100,000 over the last decade.
Studies have also shown that African nations are losing more than 25 million euros every year in tourism due to the illegal wildlife trade.