Chinese are in Africa to exploit wildlife and precious metals

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Yang Fenglan

It’s time to be open and transparent. We should stop shilly-shallying and beating around the bush. The Chinese moved into the African continent to exploit it. They need precious metals for their manufacturing and the Chinese culture has an insatiable appetite for wild animal parts and where better to get them than the African continent?

Yang Fenglan

The 66-year-old, Yang Fenglan, escorted by Tanzania’s Prison warden as she was brought at Kisutu Resident’s Magistrate Court in Dar es Salaam, Friday November 04, 2016. AFP

It appeared that the African legislatures were being passive and quiet about the exploitation of their countries. This appears to have changed in recent times. Last year, in Tanzania, a Chinese trafficker, Yang Fenglan, who has the nickname “the ivory Queen” (yes, she’s female) was jailed for 15 years because of her expertise in shipping out elephant tusks to the ivory trade in China. She was convicted of trafficking 860 tusks between 2000 and 2014.

Recently, The Times, has reported that the jailing of Chinese traffickers is a blow to the animal parts trade from what is considered to be a hub in Malawi. Law enforcement in that country has broken up a animal parts trafficking gang of nine, seven of whom are Chinese. The leader and matriarch is Quinhua Zhang, 43, who has been jailed for 11 years for illegally possessing rhino horn and an unlicensed firearm. At the time of her arrest she had been on bail for trafficking charges after being arrested last year.

Her husband Yunhua Lin, 46, had been on the run for three months after a raid on their home. He is known as “fingers” because he is missing three fingers on his left hand. He is to be sentenced separately. Also, and this is a family affair, their son-in-law, Li Hao YUan, 29, was also jailed for 11 years. He was in possession of rhino horn, pangolin anteater scales and an illegal weapon. He had been charged earlier in a different matter for illegally possessing animal parts.

The raid found a cache of unlicensed weapons as well as endangered animal parts which included hippo teeth, crocodile skins, pangolin scales, and ivory. The director of national parks in Zimbabwe said that it was a victory for Malawi and a victory for wildlife in particular. He insisted that Malawi is no longer a playground for the likes of the Lin-Zhang syndicate which exploits their natural heritage and damages their economy.

The criminal network has been operating for at least a decade, it is reported. The rhino horns were those of the endangered black rhinos butchered at the Liwonde National Park. In 2016 Prince Harry had spent a number of weeks volunteering on a project to move 500 elephants to the area. He revisited the park during his September visit to Africa.

Pangolins are the world’s most trafficked animal because the Chinese like the scales which are made of keratin. Rhino horns are also made of keratin which is the same material that makes our nails and our hair. There is no scientific support that keratin has any medicinal value but nonetheless they are used in traditional Chinese medicine to help with ailments including arthritis. It is this bogus medicine which is catastrophically undermining wildlife conservation in places such as Africa which is being so gruesomely exploited by the Chinese.