Former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa on Saturday commended China for banning ivory trade and urged other countries across the world to follow suit.
“The banning of ivory trade in other countries like what China has done will lead to ending poaching in Tanzania,” said Mkapa who ruled Tanzania between 1995 and 2005.
Mkapa made the comment at the end of a special walk aimed at enhancing awareness on wildlife conservation and attracting more people to effectively participate in the fight against poaching.
“The most important step in putting poachers out of business would be shutting down the ivory industry in all trade hubs around the world,” Mkapa said.
The 5-km walk from the Chinese Embassy to Sea Cliff Hotel which was organized by the Chinese Embassy in the east African nation, brought together around 600 people including top government officials, non-governmental organizations, conservationists and diplomats.
Mkapa said: “It is better for other countries across the world to emulate what China has done in order to save the lives of elephants that are disappearing in various parts of the world.”
“China is not the only destination country for ivory trade, there is a number of other countries in Europe, America and the Far East, so our call is for the other destinations to ban the trade in their countries and that’s where we can move on and succeed in our fight,” he said.
Mkapa said more joint efforts were still needed to combat the illegal trade in ivory, which was threatening the survival of the African elephants.
Gaudence Milanzi, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, expressed the government’s commitment to continue deploying new ways and techniques in fighting poaching.
Milanzi praised the government of China for the good move it has taken which proved to the international community that it was determined to end the business and protect the animal.
“Elephants are at the top of the ‘wish list’ for many tourists who come to this country. Elephants are a great asset to this country in many ways, and the government is determined to stop their killing,” said Milanzi, a Major General for the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces.
Lu Youqing, the Chinese Ambassador to Tanzania, said the fight against poaching should be taken as an international challenge, calling for every country to join the race and take action.
Lu said the international community was expected to provide more support and assistance to Tanzania for wildlife protection.
“Our embassy will continue providing support to help Tanzania, share successful experience of endangered species conservation and help to train more professional personnel,” said the Chinese envoy.
German Ambassador to Tanzania Egon Kochanke, who also joined the walk, said what the Chinese ambassador has done improved the standing of China in Africa and everybody now knows that China is willing to stop the imports of ivory and protect the elephant here in the country.
In mid-2015, the government of Tanzania released an elephant population estimate from a country-wide aerial survey which showed that the elephant population has declined by 60 percent since 2009 from 109051 to 43521.
Source: Xinhua | Updated Jan 16