China is one of the world’s largest consumers of wildlife products, from elephant ivory to shark fin, from rhino horn to pangolin scales. Since IFAW established a Beijing office in 1997, we have committed to reducing demand in China for wildlife products. Our Chinese leadership and staff provide essential insight into Chinese society that results in locally relevant, effective initiatives to reduce consumption and trade of wildlife products both online and offline.
IFAW’s Asia regional director, Grace Ge Gabriel regularly blogs about our work to fight wildlife crime, from enhancing enforcement to raising consumer awareness in China.
In 2012 alone, IFAW public awareness messages in airports, railway stations, bus lines and residential communities across China reached hundreds of millions of viewership and leveraged US$18 million in in-kind support from the private sector.
An IFAW report, Making a Killing—A 2011 Survey of Ivory Markets in China, which exposed rampant illegal ivory trading, led to a massive government crackdown on illegal trade of wildlife both online and at physical markets.
IFAW’s alert of an impending illegal sale of 400 bottles of tiger bone wine led Chinese authorities to block the auction. China State Forestry Administration later issued a ban on the auction of ivory, rhino horn, tiger bone and other endangered wildlife products. Heeding the ban, several companies cancelled auctions containing endangered species.
At IFAW’s urging Baidu.com, the world’s largest Chinese language search engine deleted 34,000 illegal wildlife product listings and shut down 13 forums dedicated to illegal wildlife trade.
A collaborative public awareness campaign jointly initiated by China’s Customs, CITIES authorities and IFAW a public in June 2011 saw banners alerting travelers of the criminal nature of illegal wildlife trade were posted at 1,500 international airports, railway stations, post offices and custom clearance offices.
Working with the Chinese government, IFAW successfully persuaded many Internet trading sites in China to adopt wildlife trade bans in their policies. Led by Taobao.com, which banned the trade of tiger bone, ivory, rhino horn, bear bile, turtle shell, pangolin scale and shark fin as early as 2005, many other specially websites are following suit, effectively making online policies stronger than China’s Wildlife Protection Law.
Intelligence from IFAW guided China’s enforcement authorities in one of the largest crackdowns on illegal wildlife trade in the country’s history. The operation in the spring of 2012 resulted in the confiscation of more than 130,000 wild animals and animal products, the shutdown of 7,155 high-street shops and 628 online stores and the removal of illegal online trade information.
IFAW’s long-term commitment to promoting wildlife conservation and animal welfare in China is showing promising results.
College Applicants Go to School with IFAW
IFAW’s “Mom I Got Teeth” campaign urging Chinese consumers to reject elephant ivory resonated so well that the Zhejiang Education Bureau adopted the campaign’s core concept for the Chinese language portion of the National College Entrance Exams, which 300,000 students in the Zhejiang province took in 2011.
Chinese Teachers and Tour Guides Get an Education in Wildlife Conservation and Animal Welfare
Over the year, IFAW trained more than 130 teachers and education officials across China in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. The Chinese Education Bureau at IFAW’s elephant habitat conservation site in Yunnan province made IFAW’s Animal Action Education training a mandatory requirement for teacher career advancement and adopted animal welfare and conservation concepts into formal school curriculums. In addition, IFAW developed an animal welfare and conservation training manual for tour guides in the region.
Students Take Action for Animals
From October 2011 to January 2012, 180,000 Chinese students from more than 200 schools in 16 provinces and cities participated in IFAW’s Animal Action Education week. Twenty-five thousand students signed an “Elephant protection and Say ‘No’ to ivory” petition rejecting the ivory trade.