US and China join forces to curb illegal ivory trade

Sally Jewell at Lewa Conservancy
Sally Jewell at Lewa Conservancy. Photo: Twitter/USEmbassyKenya

US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell has signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for US and Kenyan co-operation to fight wildlife trafficking on the final day of her five-day visit to Kenya.

She was joined in the Lewa Conservancy by US Ambassador to Kenya Robert ‘Bob Godec’, Cabinet Secretary for Environment & Natural Resources Professor Judi Wachungu, Northern Rangelands Trust’s Ian Craig and US Aid Kenya’s Karen Freeman.

Sally Jewell at Lewa Conservancy
Sally Jewell at Lewa Conservancy. Photo: Twitter/USEmbassyKenya

During the day, she reaffirmed that the U.S. and Chinese governments are working closely to ensure that illegal wildlife trade especially on ivory is banned in their two countries.

The ban is expected to restrict the import of illegal ivory as hunting trophies to the two countries.

Speaking to journalists, she said: “I visited China and had fruitful discussions with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang and had constructive dialogue that is earmarked at ending the trade in the two countries.”

Jewell described the Chinese, U.S. and Kenyan commitment as a step forward to reducing the illicit wildlife trade wth her remarks coming amid recent reports that the value of illegal raw ivory has been falling continuously.

This has given hope to conservationists that the destruction of Africa’s elephant population could see a significant reduction.

Ian Craig at Lewa Conservancy
Ian Craig at Lewa Conservancy. Photo: Twitter/USEmbassyKenya

Both the U.S. and China have now enacted a near-total ban on the interstate trade and commercial import of ivory and Secretary Jewell said her government had improved intelligence gathering to help identify those involved in the illegal smuggling business.

“Like in the case of drug trafficking, we are putting measures in place to help us know where the ivory is coming from and also arrest the kingpins in time.” – Sally Jewell

She also took the opportunity to call on all African countries to increase their efforts to reduce poaching across the continent by sharing information.