Holy cow! I know that official delegations often use the excuse of a foreign trip to go on a huge shopping spree, but usually they stock up on electronics or clothing. The Chinese delegation, on a 2013 trip to Africa, decided to go binge shopping for ivory tusks. They bought so much that they managed to double the price of poached ivory during their stay!
Slate reports that “China has long been accused of fueling the illegal ivory trade in Africa. A new report out this week from London-based NGO Environmental Investigation Agency says the illicit trade implicates even the highest levels of the Chinese government.”
I guess this news won’t exactly help to dispel those rumors. The NY Times as a superb article about the “toxic blend of governance failures, corruption, and criminality” that has come together to decimate Tanzania’s elephant population.
At a time when the Chinese government is trying to prove itself a responsible state actor that is serious about rooting out corruption and abiding by international law, the organization’s report describes a devastating environmental cost of China’s geopolitical rise: Chinese diplomats and military personnel, it says, are colluding with corrupt Tanzanian officials and Chinese-led crime syndicates that send huge amounts of illegal ivory to China, reducing Tanzania’s elephant population by half.
In the past four years, Tanzania has lost more elephants to poaching than any other country, an estimated 10,000 in 2013 alone, according to the organization — an average of about 30 elephants slaughtered each day. The elephant population in Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve, a 19,000-square-mile wilderness larger than Switzerland, plummeted by 67 percent to 13,000 in 2013 from 39,000 in 2009.
Those numbers are shocking and heartbreaking. Looks like the Chinese effect in Africa is even worse than I thought.