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Chinese company promotes wildlife conservation in Africa

Chinese internet company Tencent says it will strengthen partnership with conservation lobbies in the East African region to boost the war against wildlife crimes.

Zhou Boyun, the Director of Public Relations at Tencent Wechat, said to Xinhua that the internet company will spearhead a long-term campaign to fight illegal trade in wildlife products using digital platforms.

“We are a global company and have a responsibility to support the fight against illegal ivory trade through partnership with local conservation groups,” Zhou said.

Tencent and the conservation lobby, The Nature Conservancy, signed an agreement in May this year to revitalize the campaign against wildlife products globally.

Dubbed “Tencent for the Planet”, the campaign has already been rolled out in Kenya and the East African region where criminal syndicates have been involved in the slaughter of elephants and rhinos for their ivory and horn respectively.

During an interview with Xinhua, Zhou Boyun said Tencent have utilized its technological prowess to help nab ivory smuggling criminal syndicates that have been using social media to transact their illegal business.

“Criminals involved in illegal wildlife trade have been using social media platforms like WeChat to transact business since privacy is assured. So far, we have closed 622 private accounts operated by them,” Zhou said.

She added that Tencent has relied on subscribers of its digital platforms to help identify criminal networks involved in illegal trade in wildlife products.

“We rely on users to report illegal activities on Wechat and later pass the information to governments and civil society partners to help identify culprits,” Zhou told Xinhua.

She revealed that Tencent has utilized big data to promote awareness on wildlife crimes.

Kenya Wildlife Service ranger demonstrates ivory "seized" in anti-smuggling practice, Dec.13, 2015, Nairobi, Kenya (Xinhua/Sun Ruibo)
Kenya Wildlife Service ranger demonstrates ivory “seized” in anti-smuggling practice, Dec.13, 2015, Nairobi, Kenya (Xinhua/Sun Ruibo)

The executives from Tencent will visit Kenyan northern rangelands to witness ongoing projects on wildlife conservation.

She said the executives will engage local communities to explore new areas of cooperation in order to promote conservation of key wildlife species in their natural habitat.

Tencent and The Nature Conservancy have supported the Elephants Conservation Initiative launched by African leaders in 2014 to rally the international community behind a campaign to protect the iconic mammals from poaching.

Munira Bashir, Kenya Programs Director at The Nature Conservancy, said a partnership with Tencent has been a game changer in wildlife conservation across the Kenyan hinterland.

“We are on the same page with Tencent and other corporate partners from China in the endeavor to promote wildlife conservation. This week, we have a major exhibition in Beijing to raise awareness on elephant protection,” Bashir said.

  • Xinhua News- Nairobi
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