left corner left corner
China Daily Website  

China's involvement crucial to strengthen protection of Africa's wildlife, UNEP

Updated: 2016-03-03 23:39

NAIROBI -- A strategic engagement between China and African nations to strengthen protection of iconic wildlife species is critical, the Executive Director of UNEP Achim Steiner said on Wednesday.

During an exclusive interview with Xinhua in Nairobi ahead of World Wildlife Day to be observed on March 3rd, Steiner said China is a critical partner in efforts to tackle threats facing Africa's wildlife treasures.

"We commend China's efforts to curb illegal trafficking of ivory through better monitoring and screening mechanisms alongside public awareness, though Chinese demand and continued illegal trade for wildlife products into China still remains a challenge," Steiner remarked.

He noted that an agreement signed by Chinese President Xi Jinping and his American counterpart Barrack Obama in September 2015 was a game changer in efforts to curb wildlife crimes in Africa.

The Chinese government has partnered with African countries to re-energize the war against poaching of iconic mammals like elephants and rhinos.

Steiner said Chinese government, enterprises and citizens living in Africa for their active engagement in efforts to contain the menace of illegal trade in wildlife products.

"Each step China takes to promote wildlife protection in Africa is commendable," Steiner told Xinhua, adding that Chinese celebrities have partnered with the global environment body to raise awareness on the plight of African elephants and rhinos.

According to Steiner, UNEP and China have forged close partnership to advance conservation of flora and fauna in Sub-Saharan Africa, noting that UNEP counts on China to strengthen its mandate of advancing green economy and wildlife conservation in the world's second largest continent.

"We have partnered with Chinese goodwill ambassadors to raise awareness on wildlife crimes," said the Executive Director.UNEP's partnership with China to promote ecological civilization and green economy will have a positive impact on habitats conservation in Africa and the larger global south.

"Right now cheap two-stroke motorcycles are making Africa more mobile, but with significant and growing environmental and health pollution consequences. I hope in future, we should see China's electric engine motorcycles becoming available to African customers as this would both help mobility and reduce pollution and health impacts," he said.

UNEP has provided technical assistance to African countries to help them establish legal frameworks to strengthen the war against wildlife crime, he noted.

Steiner emphasized the international community will not relent in its efforts to help African countries tackle threats to their wildlife treasures including poaching, climate change and habitat loss, adding that strategic alliances are crucial to help re-energize the war against wildlife crimes in Africa effectively.

"The World Wildlife Day was designated by the UN to help put a spotlight on illegal wildlife trade that is rampant in Africa," said the UNEP Chief.

Steiner noted that despite recent successes, the menace of poaching remained a huge threat to survival of iconic mammals in the continent.

"In South Africa, 1,200 rhinos were poached last year. There is enormous pressure on wildlife species in Africa and the international community has realized a strategic response is needed," Steiner told Xinhua.

  • Group a building block for Africa

    An unusually heavy downpour hit Durban for two days before the BRICS summit's debut on African soil, but interest for a better platform for emerging markets were still sparked at the summit.