In China, protecting animals beyond borders
As hundreds of flights landing and taking off at the new international airport in Kunming, Yunnan province in China, passengers clearing Customs or waiting in the departure lounge inevitably are attracted by two colorful display cases.
The display is part of the campaign by the International Fund for Animal Welfare to reduce the demand for wildlife and their products, urging Chinese travelers to “Think Twice. Do not buy or traffic in wildlife products”.
From python skins to tiger bone wine, from elephant ivory carvings to tortoise shell, from orchids to red sanders, the animal and plant species in the display were all confiscated from illegal trade.
A pitiful fragment of their former self, the wildlife parts and products represent a growing threat to biodiversity around the world from illegal wildlife trade with China as the main destination.
Increased consumption power and convenience in international travel for Chinese citizens, combined with an ignorance of both laws and the devastating impact of trade on wildlife, unfortunately results in an escalating number of Chinese travelers caught in illegal wildlife trade in ports around the world.
According to the Kenya Wildlife Service, 95% of the travelers caught with wildlife contraband in Nairobi international airport are Chinese nationals.
The southern province of Yunnan is one of the few areas left in China with relatively rich biodiversity. The remaining 300 Asian elephants in China can only be found in Yunnan. But more importantly, Kunming, the capital of Yunnan will serve as a new gateway to regions where biodiversity is increasingly under threat, mainly from the demand in China.
The new Kunming airport will be China’s 4th largest airport after Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, servicing destinations in South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
Highlighting the species commonly in trade in the Asia region, the exhibit warns travelers that these animal and plant species are protected by both international and domestic laws, and that buying and trafficking in endangered wildlife and their parts not only threaten their survival but also is a punishable offense.
In collaboration with China’s Customs and CITES authorities in Yunnan, IFAW’s “Think Twice” campaign aims to raise awareness among Chinese travelers about the detriments of wildlife trade and urge consumers to reject wildlife consumption.
It is a campaign to protect animals beyond borders.