Sunday 13 September 2020

China has got wildlife conservation by the balls

OPINION: Wildlife conservation has become too expensive. I'm not referring to the expenditure of taxpayers' dollars and pounds on protecting the wild species. I'm referring to the consequences of global trade and the economies of the major countries in trying to protect wildlife.

According to data published by the United Nations Statistics Division, China accounted for 28% of global manufacturing output in 2018. In 2019, China accounted for approximately 21% of the global retail market. The second largest share after the United States.

China is in Africa in a big way. They are there to mine for precious metals to support their manufacturing industry. Africa is the home of the greatest iconic wild species on the planet. The forests in Africa are being torn down to make way for plantations and mining. African nations have sold out to China. They are being tricked and to be frank they're not the best stewards of wildlife. We know that without being overly critical because the lion population in Africa has dropped in just two decades by 43%. It is estimated that as few as 23,000 remain today. The same story more or less applies to the other species.

This is not all down to China. The population in Africa is the fastest-growing in the world. Humankind is taking up the lion's habitat. But China is the big player in wildlife conservation without actually being a player. They're simply a barrier because if you tried to stop mining in Africa to protect the African golden cat which lives in the forests of central and west Africa, you would upset the Chinese government and in doing that they would stop buying your products and they'd stop manufacturing your products and therefore they've got wildlife conservation by the balls.

And if you wanted to genuinely protect the Bengal tiger, you would do something about traditional Chinese medicine because tiger body parts go into it. When and if a country did something about the propensity for rich Chinese in China to eat tiger body parts and drink tiger wine made from the bones of tigers or lions or whatever other big animal they can kill and stew and drink, they'd suffer economically by Chinese retaliation.

President Xi, has vocally supported traditional Chinese medicine. There is no chance that the West can force the Chinese to change their minds about the killing of wild species to supply Chinese medicine because if they do the Chinese will retaliate with a trade war and they will win because the West is hooked on cheap goods and the West like a bloody drug and is dependent on selling their goods in China. The average citizen living in the West is not tuned in to wildlife conservation but it tuned in to cheap goods. They'd revolt is they became more expensive because of conservation efforts.

It's too expensive to run an effective conservation programme. It's too expensive in terms of how China will react which would damage the economies of those countries trying to save the wild species. Sir David Attenborough said it's not too late to change course and protect the planet. I agree but I'm not hopeful.

I hate going on about the Chinese but they have a disregard for animal welfare. It is part of their culture and their attitude. It's the cause of the coronavirus pandemic - wet markets. The pandemic itself is a huge setback to wildlife conservation because there will be a dearth of money to spend on animal welfare because it's all been spent on protecting people and jacking up failing economies because of extensive lockdown.

I am one of those people who suspect that China deliberately created the coronavirus pandemic because it benefits them. They had a head start once the virus was released which allowed them to minimise damage to their economy and get ahead of the other world economies. It benefits them. I have an incredibly negative and pessimistic attitude currently about wildlife conservation because the big blocker at its core is bloody China.

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