Simultaneous Windhoek-Harare workshops held to curb illegal wildlife trade
More than 160 local Chinese nationals this week, from State-owned enterprises, businesses and communities attended a Ministerial workshop held in Windhoek and Harare to raise awareness against wildlife trafficking amongst Chinese nationals living and working in Namibia and Zimbabwe.
The Ministerial level workshop was jointly hosted by China’s State Forest Administration, China’s CITES Management Authority, TRAFFIC and WWF last weekend, supported by the various Chinese Embassies.
Namibia’s Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism, Tommy Nambahu, and Zimbabwe’s Director of Environment and Natural Resources Department, Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate Mandoga presented their case on how illegal wildlife trade is straining the relationship between governments and the cross border tourism trade.
Head of TRAFFIC’s China office, Zhou Fei, said that TRAFFIC expects representatives attended these workshops to help relay that message to their respective companies and Chinese communities.
Forest Programme Manager of WWF China, Wang Lei, emphasised how Chinese corporate leaders should adopt best practices in sustainable forest management to help eliminate illegal timber trade between China and Africa.
The two workshops provided an opportunity for Chinese citizens based in Namibia and Zimbabwe to be made fully aware of the illegality of such activities and the risks of becoming engaged in them. A special wildlife conservation fund among Chinese companies and communities operating locally in Namibia was established and raised an initial fund of N$110,000.
An expert on elephant ivory and rhino horn trade with TRAFFIC, Tom Milliken,spoke about recent trends in the global illegal wildlife trade, in particular trafficking between southern African countries and China. He also spoke about the scale of ongoing African Elephant and rhino poaching triggered by illegal trade in their products.
The Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Huang Ping said that from the strategic height of China’s overall national development, the Chinese government has been consistently improving the legal framework and the laws that provide legal protection to strengthening wildlife protection and combatting illegal trade in wildlife.
Namibia is also a popular tourism destination and has also maintained extensive economic and cultural exchanges with China following the establishment of diplomatic relations. However, the increasingly closer ties between China and the two nation-states has created a loop hole for illegal exploitation of wildlife species, with products smuggled to meet demand in the Chinese marketplace.
TRAFFIC Representatives from China’s CITES Management Authority spoke about China’s amendments to laws and regulations under the CITES framework, the Convention’s implementation in China, and the implications of China’s impending domestic ivory trade ban.
Vice Minister of China’s State Forest Administration Zhang Yongli, said that the Chinese government attaches great importance to protecting wildlife species and rigorously combating wildlife crime and has made positive efforts to eliminate endangered wildlife trafficking through establishing a national inter-agency co-ordination mechanism for CITES implementation and enforcement, strengthening Customs’ inspection and market surveillance, and especially through co-hosting consecutive advocacy workshops in African countries to raise Chinese nationals’ awareness of wildlife conservation.”
“China will, as always, fulfill in good faith our obligations under international conventions and take active part in international co-operation on wildlife conservation,” Yongli, said.
Embassy of China in Namibia Chargé d’affaires Li Nan, said, “the Chinese government values endangered wildlife conservation. China and Namibia realize the need for mutual support and collaboration on CITES implementation and enforcement and have achieved good progress in attacking wildlife crime.”