China-Africa relations have grown exponentially over the past few years, fostering relationships that ensure both parties benefit and grow together. The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) also pays close attention to the country and develops strong partnerships. The current exhibition at the Shanghai Zoo runs targeted awareness campaigns to equip the Chinese public with accurate facts and show the real-time effects of their actions, both good and bad, to Africa.Five years ago, AWF began to engage China more intentionally, focusing on the role of wildlife and wildlands in Africa’s future and the impact China’s investment has on Africa’s biodiversity. AWF has reached out to the Chinese population using awareness campaigns and high-level dialogue forums and continues to do so as this engagement aligns with our new strategy.
The two-month exhibition in one of Shanghai's most popular tourist sites, the Shanghai Zoo, is entitled Saving Africa’s Endangered Species. It showcases the African elephant, pangolin, rhino, lion, and great apes and provides detailed information on the state of the species calling on Chinese citizens to stop the use of wildlife products as most items are illegally obtained.
“There is no scientific proof that rhino horn or pangolin scales are medicinal at all. In fact, research shows that the materials in both contain keratin, which is the same as your fingernails,” said AWF Species Protection Manager Nathan Gichohi during a public lecture held at the zoo during the launch on September 28, 2019. Over 80 Shanghai citizens attended the exhibition launch, eager to learn more about AWF's efforts to curb illegal wildlife trade.
AWF has held successful awareness campaigns since 2013 to call upon the Asian market to stop the demand for illegal wildlife products, which in turn has significantly stopped the killing and trafficking of threatened African wildlife species. Our three-pronged approach is working as records show a decline in the demand of ivory and rhino horn in the Asian market, with the prices dropping significantly after China banned the trade of ivory in 2017.
“Shanghai Zoo is glad to work with AWF on raising awareness to our visitors who have been curious about the state of African wildlife. We are looking forward to continuing with more sensitization campaigns with the global organization,” President of Shanghai Zoo Mr. Enle Pei said.
The zoo hosts giraffes, gorillas, chimpanzees, and a white rhino from Africa. Signage information is in both English and Chinese. With approximately 3 million guests per year, the zoo ensures that they have planned out various activities to engage all age groups and even offer free entry to young and old visitors.
AWF would like to acknowledge the continued support of Mrs. Clare Lee, an affiliate of the AWF Board, who played a key role in enhancing our networks in China and beyond. It is through such collaborative efforts that we ensure that wildlife and wild lands thrive in modern Africa.
AWF plans to continue this sensitization campaign by visiting schools in and around Shanghai to teach the young students the importance of conservation. These visits will be accompanied by the screening of the multi-award-winning film Sides of a Horn that showcases the real state on the ground in terms of poaching and its effects.