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China steps up fight against illegal wildlife trade, crime: WildAid CEO

By April 29, 2021Wildlife Trade

WildAid CEO, Peter Knights. Image: Public Domain

Martina Fuchs, China.Org | April 28, 2021

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China has been doing a good job in tackling the illegal trade of wildlife, the CEO of WildAid said, while the conservation group will continue to count on Chinese celebrity ambassadors to raise awareness about wildlife crime.

“The last few years, the Chinese government has done a number of things to really upgrade its approach to dealing with wildlife crime,” Peter Knights, CEO of WildAid, told Xinhua in a recent interview on the sidelines of Collision 2021, a virtual global technology conference.

Early last year, China banned the illegal trading of wildlife and eliminated the consumption of wild animals. The country also increased the oversight of illegal wildlife trade via e-commerce platforms.

It also imposed a total ban on ivory trading since 2018, a significant step in the global drive to protect the world’s elephant population.

Knights also praised China’s move to “give greater protection for the pangolin, uplisting the pangolins’ classification. And that’s very much needed because pangolins are threatened all over the world.”

China upgraded the protection of pangolins to the highest level last June as the species has long been under threat in the wild.

WildAid is a non-profit organization with the mission to end the illegal wildlife trade. It primarily works to reduce global consumption of wildlife products such as elephant ivory, rhino horn and shark fin soup.

Headquartered in San Francisco, WildAid’s programs span across Africa and Asia, and persuade consumers not to buy illegal or unsustainable wildlife products, and to make sustainable transportation and food choices to help mitigate climate change.

Despite progresses, the fight against illegal wildlife trade and crime is far from over, Knights stressed.

“We obviously need to do more. Part of it is education, which is what we have been doing to reach out to the public so they understand why it’s important not to consume wildlife, not just for the endangerment of the animals but also for health reasons as well,” he said.

“We need more of that education to go with the law enforcement efforts that are going on,” Knights added.

COP15 in Kunming

China in October will host the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) in Kunming, capital of southwest China’s Yunnan Province.

Asked about the results he expects, Knights said it is hoped that China might lead the world in protecting biodiversity.

“We are hoping that this is the year of some big announcements both on climate change and on biodiversity, and perhaps we may look back historically and say this was maybe the year we woke up globally to these environmental crises that are going on.”

Chinese Ambassadors

WildAid works with more than 100 superstar ambassadors to spread its messages about wildlife crime, including Chinese celebrities such as basketball player Yao Ming, actress Li Bingbing, actor and martial artist Jackie Chan, and singer Jay Chou.

“People like Yao Ming and Jackie Chan have really inspired a new generation of environmental leaders like Huang Xuan, Wang Yibo, or Yang Zi who are working with us now on our campaigns,” he said.

Knights said a new ivory campaign by actress Yang Zi will be launched this week, and that Huang Xuan will work with WildAid and China Customs on a rhino campaign later this year.

“This is the younger generation’s world. Some of us oldies, we’ve kind of made our mess of the world, and it’s up to the new generation to lead it forward in a new, progressive way that protects our environment and our health and our economies to the future. And I think the younger generation can do that,” Knights said. Enditem