Q: Surely, Chinese people talk about these things (poaching, illegal trade in wildlife)? It’s not a country that’s untouched from global debate on these topics? Moreover, they themselves are facing these problems- the giant panda is facing extinction. What has been done to educate the Chinese? Isn’t the Chinese government doing anything? I think that each time such news arises, China is blamed, but what can we do to change the Chinese mindset? Stop buying chinese goods is not the way to go. China is the strongest economy in the world, and boycotting the largest economy is not in anyone’s interest. Surely, activists have thought of other, more workable ways of dealing with this problem?

Asked by Aditi Varma

Answer from Shekar Dattatri, Conservation India:

‘Educating’ someone is not easy if they don’t want to be ‘educated’. If the Chinese government wants, it can ‘educate’ all its citizens very quickly about not consuming wildlife products. Unfortunately however, it shows no signs that it has any interest in cracking down on the illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife derivatives. In fact everyone is happy to look the other way, and it is a well known fact that senior government functionaries in China use such products. Given the kind of country it is, it’s not easy for foreign NGOs to launch campaigns. If India wants to safeguard its wildlife, we must do a much better job of protection. The levels of patrolling and protection in most Indian reserves is laughable, and there is virtually no intelligence-led enforcement. Instead of wringing our hands about the Chinese, if we just made our system of protection more efficient and accountable, our wildlife will flourish despite some poaching here and there.  In fact, places like Kaziranga and Nagarahole, which have had a long tradition of protection, are a testimony to this. No country can eliminate poaching, but it is certainly possible to control it to a large extent with the right measures.

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