The Nature Conservancy, Kenya Wildlife Service and Tencent Corporation are working together to raise awareness about protecting wildlife and about China’s relationship with Kenya in combating the illegal wildlife trade.
Tencent Corporation, a leading provider of Internet services in Asia, is travelling to Kenya to see wildlife conservation in action. Under the leadership of Tencent CEO and The Nature Conservancy China Board member Pony Ma, Tencent joined The Nature Conservancy and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in a joint campaign to combat the illegal online wildlife trade on Tencent’s social media platforms.
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“In recent years, wildlife is increasingly threatened by illegal trading. Take the ivory trade as an example: more than 25,000 African elephants are killed every year for ivory,” said BoYun Zhou, PR Director, Tencent Wechat.
“Tencent has made a concerted effort to protect wildlife by clamping down on malicious and illegal activities online, and promise not to provide any opportunities for promotion and trading of wildlife and related products on Tencent’s platforms.”
“The Nature Conservancy Africa and China programs are working closely together to help end the poaching crisis. By helping reduce the demand for ivory in China and increasing security and protected lands for elephants in Africa, we are uniquely positioned to make a significant and lasting difference for African elephants,” said Munira Bashir, Kenya Program Director, The Nature Conservancy. “It is also our unique and powerful partnerships that will help save elephants. Tencent’s extraordinary reach and influence will make a big difference in tackling the challenge of illegal wildlife trafficking.”
‘’Wildlife conservation is a demanding and expensive venture requiring the collaboration of all stakeholders. Dealing with wildlife crime needs address through all communication fronts including social media platforms so as to create the necessary awareness to protect humanity’s common and unique heritage,’’ said Paul Gathitu, Kenya Wildlife Service.
Continued high demand for illegal wildlife products has greatly endangered many species like elephants, rhinos, and tigers, leaving some facing imminent extinction. The world is experiencing the worst poaching crisis in history, rivaling that in the 1980s, when more than 800 tons of ivory left Africa every year and the continent’s elephant populations plunged from 1.3 million to 600,000. Scientists estimate that only 430,000 African elephants remain today with one elephant killed every 15 minutes for its ivory.
As one of the world’s most lucrative criminal activities, valued at US$19 billion annually, illegal wildlife trade ranks fifth globally in terms of value, behind the trafficking in drugs, people, oil and counterfeiting. The IFAW report “Wanted: Dead or Alive, Exposing the Online Wildlife Trade”, of its 2014 investigation into online wildlife trade, reveals that over 33,000 endangered wildlife and wildlife parts were available for sale online in a short six-week period.
In December, Tencent teams up with The Nature Conservancy and other organizations to launch the Love Elephants Month initiative, calling on netizens to refuse illegal online ivory trade and say no to ivory consumption,” said Zhou. “Tencent for the Planet will educate the public about illegal poaching and tell them the cruel truth hidden behind the illegal ivory trade through various ways. Tencent has shut down a group of social media accounts which were proven to be involved in illegal online wildlife business activities.”
“We are thrilled to see so many influential people in China step up as leaders on this issue – but it’s not a surprise. Members of The Nature Conservancy China Board have been supporting conservation work in Africa through the China Global Conservation Fund for years, and we are already seeing the results of this work,” said Bashir. “The Nature Conservancy is also proud of the on the ground work happening in Kenya with community conservancies and local partners. Combined, elephants and other endangered wildlife have a chance.”