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China pledges to fight against ivory trade


08:11, March 05, 2013

BANGKOK, March 4 (Xinhua) -- China is determined to work with the international community to curb ivory trade and protect wild elephants, officials said here on Monday.

In its Ivory Trade Report submitted to the ongoing 16th Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the Chinese delegation outlines the nation's effort in combating illicit ivory trade and the measures for protecting wild elephants.

Meng Xianlin, executive director general of China's Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora Import and Export Management Office, told Xinhua that China does not completely banned its domestic ivory market but sets the limit on the amount of legal consumption at six tons per year.

The ivory that are allowed for sale in the market come from two sources:those that were imported before CITES took effect and those bought by China from four African countries' stocks as permitted by CITES in 2008. All other elephant tusks circulated in the market are labeled as illegal, according to Meng.

The relevant agencies under the Chinese government, including the custom controls and business sectors, are taking concerted and effective moves to crack down on ivory trafficking and trade, said Meng.

Meanwhile, China, a particular target for ivory dealers, has been helping African countries, where a staggering number of wild elephants are being poached for their tusks, to set up monitoring systems for the protection of the animal and to improve the livelihood of local residents, he added.

On the broader stage, China urges the international community to work out a comprehensive strategy to jointly tackle and eradicate trans-border crimes related to wild animals and plants, said Zhang Jianlong, deputy director of China's State Forestry Administration. He proposed the establishment of a trans-national law enforcement network for the protection of wildlife animals.

Stuart Chapman, Conservation Director for World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) Greater Mekong Programme, called for collaboration among ivory's source countries and consumer countries to utterly close down the illegal market.

"We need to take action on both sides. We need enforcement in countries where ivory is ending up and we also need enforcement action in countries where the elephants exist. So it is a combined effort," he said in an interview with Xinhua.

Some 2,000 delegates representing over 150 governments, indigenous peoples, non-governmental organizations and businesses are attending the conference, which ends on March 14. They will discuss 70 proposals submitted by 55 countries seeking to improve the conservation and sustainable use of wild species.

Since its inception in 1975, CITES has placed some 35,000 species of animal and plants under its protection, controlling and monitoring their international trade. The 178 countries who have signed up to the convention are mandated to undertake measures to implement its decisions.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of CITES on Sunday, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra of the host Thailand promised to amend the nation's legislations "with the goal of putting an end to the ivory trade," but without giving a timeframe for the landmark offer.

Thailand, one of the largest markets for ivory trade in the world, currently allows trade of tusks from domesticated Asian elephants. But it has been exploited by criminals to sell illicit stocks of African ivory.

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