Wildlife agencies urge US to emulate China's leadership in curbing illegal ivory trade

Source:Xinhua Published: 2015-5-31 9:14:37

Two international wildlife conservation agencies on Saturday called on the United States to act swiftly to emulate China's leadership in curbing illegal ivory trade.

In separate statements to Xinhua, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) said the destruction of 662 kg of confiscated ivory Friday should be emulated by countries such as the United States.

"More leadership is needed, not only from China but also from the US. The US continues to drag its feet on enacting long- overdue regulations to better control its own sizeable ivory market," said Ginette Hemley, WWF Senior Vice President of Wildlife Conservation.

"These and other major ivory consuming countries hold the key to saving Africa's elephants. We therefore urge the strongest possible measures from these governments to prevent an unthinkable ending for one of the planet's most iconic species," she said.

Hemley said the destruction of ivory signals that wildlife crime will not be tolerated.

AWF CEO Patrick Bergin said, "It's clear the Chinese government is taking ever greater responsibility over the potential role of its citizens in the illicit ivory trade, and for that we commend them."

The statements come a day after the Chinese government destroyed 662 kg of illegal ivory, the second public destruction after 6.1 tonnes of confiscated ivory were destroyed in the southern city of Dongguan last year.

China's State Forestry Administration had also placed a one- year ban on ivory imports in February.

More countries have publicly destroyed seized ivory this year to help combat global illegal ivory trade. Kenya, Ethiopia, United Arab Emirates and the Republic of Congo together torched more than 36 tonnes of ivory.

According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the ivory trade is pushing endangered elephants towards extinction. Every year, 25,000-30,000 African Elephants are poached to supply the ivory trade.

Research shows that for slow-growing, long-living species like the elephant, when mortality rate reaches 6 percent, the population risks crashing. However, in many regions of Africa, elephant populations are declining at a rate of 11 to 12 percent because of ivory trade.

AWF said it has helped increase protection for elephant populations throughout the African continent and launched a detection canine program to supply sniffer dogs to wildlife authorities.

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