It’s Not Just About Trade, China Also Cares About Uganda’s Biodiversity

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By Alan Collins Mpewo

The wildlife talk always ends with a realization of how fragile the fauna species are. Conservation activities have recently been streamlined, but they weren’t as such in the near past. Just a human, the wildlife species (domesticated or in their natural habitat) have gone through different struggles as they seek their survival. Knowing the greatest danger in the current century will have many shocked, because humans rank on top of that list. Be that as it may, climate change is another such challenge, and in the far gone past, some wildlife species saw their extinction. The dinosaurs once roamed the lowest and highest points of earth. How unfortunate that they, with other later species, are now extinct. Such an origin gives us an understanding of how important it is to see that these species are protected from the probable ravages of destruction, on any scale of damage.

Uganda and China share much in common in nature. With a few exceptions in the distinct wildlife species, and climatic conditions, the meeting point is the need to conserve these species. For Uganda, the battle for such conservation and preservation hasn’t been easy. While the past has seen individuals take up at their own initiative to engage in such conservation, such as the late Dian Fossey, a primatologist whose activities were mainly based in the Virunga region of Uganda, with a focus on the Mountain Gorillas. One of the major challenges to wildlife conservation has always been limited funding and minimal modern technologies that’d be appropriate to ease the protection and conservation activities.

The Wildlife Conservation Society thus thought it wise to lobby for support from Uganda’s foreign partners and one of the first to respond was China. Not only has it been supported through funding, but also through training programs for the Society’s staff. Uganda, just like its immediate neighborhood, has suffered a great loss of rhinoceros and it’s of no surprise that this species is now red listed as an endangered species. The bright side is that since various Chinese wildlife enterprises took part in fulfilling these objectives, ivory demand in Uganda has since reduced, but the goal is to make sure that a zero demand of ivory is met. The demand of these products had become rampant in some Chinese communities, a great pressure it caused on the Uganda security authorities in fighting poaching.

The commitment by China to realize a safe shared future has since therefore been seen in the recent announcement by the Chinese Government to depress the ivory market. With the ‘Going Out’ policy laid by the China Government however, those on the forefront of this illegal trade have since adopted new skills and channels of this trade, but the commitment from China isn’t in question as it remains as resolute as before. The strategy has been through addressing and engaging multinational Chinese cooperation whose activities have bearing effects on wildlife species and their habitats, to join the fight and contribute to the objective of ensuring a sustainable future for all organisms that live on this planet.

The layout of the strategies being taken by China and Uganda have been set on investigating the Uganda and China residents on linkages to the illegal trade and trafficking of ivory. Thus far, Uganda has had various prosecutions of both national and foreign culprits, but so is China. More goes by China through placing sanctions and bans on cooperation dealing in the activity too. In China, many multinational cooperation that also have activities in Uganda, have since been mandated to align their staff to the present realities, and ensure established mechanisms to reprimand those that act contrary. Recommendations have also been welcomed from the wide public on how better the present policies can be modelled to have beefed efficacy in achieving their intended goals.

The fourth estate, the media as it’s known, has always been called on by the Chinese Government to participate in this shared fight. CGTN for example has seen various programs air in form of both documentaries and public call outs on the needed eradication of this vice. Profiling of Chinese cooperation dealing in energy and gas, mining, infrastructure, telecommunications, and more that have an effect on the biodiversity has since been done to compel them into aligning to the demands of wildlife conservation. The two countries therefore have a tasked duty on this cooperation to embark on impact assessments to get informed on potential risks and how to minimize them. The WCS Team from China helps with the tracking of Chinese criminals that deal in the wildlife trafficking.

Going forward, with an aided layout and plan on wildlife conservation by China, there aren’t many fingers bound to point onto the Chinese government as unconcerned with the wildlife conservation needs of not only Uganda, but other partner states. That notwithstanding, there is bright light on the course of extended cooperation, that more support will come by, from not only China, but other partner states in wildlife conservation.

Alan Collins Mpewo, is a lawyer and Senior Research Fellow, Development Watch Centre.


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