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Government Elephant Ivory Bans Endanger Rare Helmeted Hornbills




Another unintended consequence of well-intentioned government policy.



(p. A3) BEIJING -- Even as China, the world's leading market for illegal ivory, promises to help safeguard elephants in Africa, a rare bird in Southeast Asia is in danger because its skull is being sold in China as an ivory alternative, conservationists say.


. . .


More than 2,000 helmeted hornbill skulls, or casques, were seized by the authorities in Indonesia and China in the past five years, according to a new report by the Environmental Investigation Agency, a nongovernmental organization based in London. In some cases, Chinese citizens were caught trying to leave Indonesia with casques in their luggage.


. . .


China has joined the world in taking a stand against the trade in elephant and rhinoceros products. In September, during his state visit to the United States, President Xi Jinping pledged to "enact nearly complete bans on ivory import and export."

But some conservationists worry that less celebrated but also threatened animals, including the helmeted hornbill, are being overlooked, becoming easy picks to meet the demand.

"Shifting to hornbill ivory is like grabbing a low-hanging fruit," Yokyok Hadiprakarsa, the director of the Indonesian Hornbill Conservation Society, wrote in an email.



For the full story, see:

SHAOJIE HUANG. "Chinese Demand for Ivory Alternative Threatens Rare Hornbill Bird." The New York Times (Weds., MARCH 23, 2016): A3.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date MARCH 22, 2016, and has the title "Chinese Demand for Ivory Alternative Threatens Rare Bird.")






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