Tilikum is SeaWorld’s most iconic killer whale, having lived at the theme park for 23 of his 34 years, and he is very sick. Veterinary staff at SeaWorld have explained his illness as a treatment-resistant form of bacterial pneumonia which could realistically prove fatal. Despite his condition, Tilikum is still expected to perform tricks and entertain crowds, perhaps right until the day he dies.
Beyond Africa’s borders, Chinese nationals operate illicit networks that liaise with African poaching gangs, set up shell companies, bribe cargo handlers at various ports, then move the product through Asian entry points for sale to carving factories.
“Chinese law prevents the killing and sale of protected species, and last year Premier Xi Jinping pledged to enact “a near complete ban” on the import and export of ivory. China’s Wildlife Protection Law is undergoing its first major revision in 26 years since it came into force. There was hope that this would signal a crackdown on poaching and wildlife trade. However, the draft, currently under public consultation, states that wildlife can be used in the manufacture of Chinese traditional medicine, healthcare products and food for profit. According to the EIA, if this draft becomes law it would open, rather than close, the loopholes in wildlife trafficking.”
- At Bole Airport in Ethiopia, which is a conduit for flights to Asia, a CITES report noted that more than 85% of transit passengers who were caught with illegal ivory in 2014 were Chinese.
- The Born Free Foundation has estimated that about 70% of ivory in Chinese markets is illegal and that the laundering of illegal wildlife products is widespread.
- Researchers calculate that about 230,000 elephants were poached between 2009 and 2015.