The following article was published by Daily Nation on 13 March 2013:
Recently I held a meeting with Mr. William Kiprono, Director of Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). During our cordial discussions, Mr. Kiprono recognized China's efforts in wildlife conservation were effective and remarkable. Anyone cursorily attributing illegal ivory trade to China was unfair and misinformed. Both of us decided China and Kenya would further strengthen cooperation in wildlife conservation and tourism.
(Ambassador Liu Guangyuan and KWS's William Kiprono)
We noted with concern the number of certain key fauna species in Kenya is dwindling. Of great concern was the sharp increase in elephant and rhino poaching in recent years. We fully appreciate wildlife is a crucial economic resource for many countries, Kenya included.
Harmony between nature and humankind is the most important component of the Chinese civilization. The government of China has always attached great importance to wildlife conservation. Since joining the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1981, China has taken resolute measures towards combating illegal ivory trade:
First, China put the African elephant on the list of "first-class wildlife species under special state protection". Offenders of smuggling are committed to jail terms up to life imprisonment.
Second, China manages legal ivory trade very strictly. China is a licensed buyer of the legal ivory trade regime sanctioned by the CITES. The current 62 tones of non-poached ivory stockpile in China were purchased in 2008 at an international auction. The ivory products are earmarked with unified icons and a central data base was set up to check the flow.
Third, China has established an inter-departments law enforcement mechanism involving forestry, customs and public security agencies. This mechanism has effectively cracked down many smuggling and illegal trade cases.
Fourth, China actively promotes international cooperation against poaching. With the support of the Chinese Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA), Chinese entrepreneurs donated US$ 200,000 to the "African Elephant Conservation Fund" years ago.
"Operation Cobra" was executed by China jointly with the USA, South Africa and other organizations to fight smuggling of endangered species in 22 African and Asian countries from January to February 2013. A total of 6.5 tons of ivory, 26 rhino horns and others products were seized. China dispatched more than 10,000 law enforcement staff and seized more than 90 offenders. Through this action China sent out a strong message that poachers would be severely punished for their crimes.
Fifth, China emphasizes educating her citizens on wildlife conservation. Chinese citizens visiting Kenya automatically receive text messages from the Chinese Embassy in Kenya upon arrival warning them not to be engage in ivory products. In February 2013, the Shanghai municipal government signed an agreement with UNEP to use its large-screen displays and posters in the subway stations to promote wildlife conservation.
As a result of vigorous and effective efforts by the Chinese government, her citizens are responding positively and actively and more Chinese individuals have joined the conservation cause.
Zhuo Qiang is a Chinese national who has become an international figure for his work in protecting big cats in Kenya. He hasn't used his Chinese name for a long time as he prefers people to call him "Simba". After quitted a good government job and left his wife and 7 year old daughter in China, Simba came to Kenya in 2005 and has dedicated himself to protecting the big cats since then. He established the Masai Mara Conservation Fund, Friends of Africa Wildlife Conservation Initiative and the ICS International Volunteer Project. Simba believes the key to success in wildlife conservation is dialogue and international cooperation. He has conducted nationwide tours in China to raise public awareness on Africa's wildlife.
Chinese celebrities and public figures have not been left behind in the conservation movement either. Mr. Yao Ming, a famous Chinese basketball player, visited Kenya in August 2012and shot a documentary highlighting the dwindling population of elephants and rhinos. The documentary highlights the economic importance of wildlife tourism and asks people to enjoy rather than destroy the beauty of wildlife. It was well-received and highly praised by audiences in China and the rest of the world.
Clearly, conservation of wildlife in Kenya is of common interest to both Kenya and China. China is fully committed to making more contribution to the protection of Africa's wildlife and ready to strengthen cooperation with African countries including Kenya.