By Elaine YU
Hong Kong (AFP) Sept 6, 2017
A Kenyan park ranger who said his closest friend was shot dead while protecting elephants urged Hong Kong not to compensate the city's ivory traders in an emotive speech to lawmakers on Wednesday.
Hong Kong is a major hub for ivory sales and last year announced that it would introduce a total ban on the trade.
But authorities later clarified they would only completely abolish the trade by 2021, drawing criticism they were dragging their feet and trailing China, where officials last year pledged to halt the enterprise by the end of 2017.
Angry ivory traders in Hong Kong say they will be forced to close down their businesses and are demanding the government compensate them for their stock, a move opponents say would fuel the illicit business and encourage stockpiling.
Despite the planned ban, the trade is still flourishing in Hong Kong, which saw its biggest ivory bust in three decades in July, when more than seven tonnes of tusks worth over $9 million were seized.
During a public debate at the city's legislature over the ivory ban bill, ranger Chris Leadismo, the head of wildlife security at NGO Save the Elephants in northern Kenya, said he and his colleagues put their lives on the line to protect elephants.
"I still recall the death of my very closest friend Joseph, who was shot dead while in the line of duty in June this year. There is still pain in my heart," Leadismo said, wearing his camouflage ranger uniform.
Leadismo later changed into the brightly coloured robes of the Samburu people, a tribe to which he belongs, to speak to reporters and said the pace of the city's ivory ban was "too slow".
The next debate on the bill is scheduled for October.
- 'More valuable' -
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) says more than 20,000 African elephants die every year to feed the ivory trade in Hong Kong and Asia.
WWF wildlife law enforcement officer Crispian Barlow told the hearing that the violence around the trade was escalating.
"I had a ranger who was drowned, another was set on fire while he was asleep," he said.
A range of figures against the trade flew in for the hearing, including American photographer and filmmaker Kate Brooks who released documentary "The Last Animals" earlier this year which looked at conservationists battling poachers and trafficking.
"Can anybody in this room really look a child in the eyes and say that a piece of ivory is more valuable than their father's life?" Brooks asked the hearing.
However, traders hit back, saying they had been forced to sell off their remaining stock for the past 27 years, following an international ban in 1989.
The ban came after African elephant populations dropped from millions in the mid-20th century to some 600,000 by the end of the 1980s.
If the bill is passed, they would have to dispose of their stock by 2021.
"We are the victims... We have put all our capital into this industry," ivory seller Chu Chun-pong told the hearing.
But Leadismo said compensation would only fuel the business.
"As they are compensated, more elephants will die to fuel this trade, and I will lose more comrades, or even my life as a wildlife ranger," he said.
Washington (UPI) Sep 5, 2017
Researchers in Japan have reported in a new study they used the gene editing technology CRISPR to alter the color of a Japanese morning glory, a popular garden flower. The Japanese morning glory is one of two plants already being studied as part of Japan's National BioResource Project, so researchers at the University of Tsukuba had a significant body of genomic data to work with. ... read more
Darwin Today At TerraDaily.com
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|