Front Page Story on Ivory Trade Makes Waves in China
Story by Influential Chinese Newspaper, Southern Weekly, widely shared on Chinese social media
NEW YORK (December 20, 2013) – One month after the publication of a front-page story in an influential Chinese newspaper about the ivory trade, the story has exploded on digital and social media within China.
The story, titled “The Blood Ivory: Behind the Largest Ivory Smuggling Cases in China” appeared in the November 15th edition of Southern Weekly one of China’s most influential newspapers with a longstanding reputation for investigative journalism.
The story was the first national Chinese media piece that identified Chinese demand and consumption as the main driver of the elephant poaching crisis. In addition, the story highlighted the links between ‘blood ivory’ as a source of funds for terrorist organizations and rebel groups in Africa making the case for ivory being a governance issue.
According to WCS research, within days after publication, the article became the most discussed topic on Southern Weekly’s website. The article was then reposted by five of China’s largest web portals. Notably, most of these reposts were on finance-related pages instead of being limited to environmental news. This represents an important shift for the topic of ivory from the specialist environmental pages to the mainstream debate.
The total views of the original Southern Weekly Tweets and Retweets on Weibo (China’s Twitter/Facebook hybrid) exceeded 10 million. Most of these “netizens,” or members of the Chinese online public, were from Tier 1 Chinese cities (Beijing, Chongqing, Guangdong), the most significant consumers of ivory.
The article was reposted on 24 online discussion forums or Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) including Mop and Tianya, two of the most popular in China. Thousands of comments were generated on the Tianya BBS forum alone. Overall over 5,000 comments on the article were posted on Weibo, BBS fora, and other websites.
Cristián Samper, WCS President and CEO said: “To have the influential mainstream media make the link between the elephant crisis and the Chinese demand for ivory is hugely significant.”
Said Joe Walston, Executive Director of WCS’s Asia Program, added, “In China, it’s not just what is said but who says it. To have the Southern Weekly give its front page to an article highlighting China’s role in the ivory trade is monumental. This is no longer a fringe topic”
In September, WCS launched its 96 Elephants campaign to amplify and support the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) commitment to save Africa’s elephants by stopping the killing, stopping the trafficking, and stopping the demand. The WCS campaign focuses on: securing effective U.S. moratorium laws; bolstering elephant protection with additional funding; and educating the public about the link between ivory consumption and the elephant poaching crisis.
Throughout Africa, elephant numbers have plummeted by 76 percent since 1980 due largely to the demand of elephant ivory with an estimated 35,000 slaughtered by poachers in 2012 alone.
WCS is leading global efforts to save Africa's elephants and end the current poaching and ivory trafficking crisis by stopping the killing, stopping the trafficking, and stopping the demand. In Africa, WCS is stopping the killing on the ground in 13 of Central and Eastern Africa's most important parks--those harboring the most elephants and facing the greatest threat--from Nouabalé-Ndoki in Congo to Ruaha in Tanzania and Niassa in Mozambique. WCS recruits, equips, trains, and deploys park guards, providing aerial and intelligence support, and tracking where guards go, what they see, and what they do.
In Africa and Asia, WCS is stopping ivory trafficking at some of the most important trafficking points--cities, border crossings, ports, and airports. WCS deploys sniffer dogs in Gabon and Tanzania, helping uncover trafficking networks in Congo and Mozambique. And globally, WCS is working to stop consumer's demand for ivory, which drives the killing the killing and trafficking. In the US, WCS seeks national and state moratoria on ivory sales, and in Asia WCS assists concerned Chinese people who wish to educate their countrymen and women through social media about the lethal cost of ivory to Africa's elephants.
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