There are different perspectives and values, but are they all equally valid and appropriate? I don’t think so. It is important to distinguish the special interest and the common interest. Different people may have different criteria to make the judgments. From my perspective, living beings, whether humans or nonhumans, are all born equal, and an ideal society should recognize and safeguard the dignity of all living beings on Earth because we are all interdependent. This is my commitment. Local people’s demand for wellbeing and conservationists’ demand for saving elephants are both valid. But the demand for preserving ivory carving culture is inappropriate in this particular context because a culture that is based on the suffering of a living being is not a good culture. This is why I support the Chinese government to shut down its domestic ivory trade, which has for a long time been continued in the name of cultural heritage preservation... Rather than focusing on a single goal, our conservation policies and programs should accommodate multiple valid and appropriate objectives.
Later this month China will officially ban the trade of ivory in that country. How will that affect the situation?
China’s ivory ban in and of itself is not going to save the elephant. Early this year I have recommended that ending the illegal ivory trade in China requires a holistic approach
. The biggest obstacle that China is going to face is the implementation of the policy, and policy implementation in China is always hindered by many factors. Usually, it’s because the accountabilities and authorities are distributed across different bureaucratic agencies. Also, a lot of work needs to be done to ensure that the dictum from far-away Beijing is actually enforced locally, given that China is such a vast country... China alone cannot save the elephant. It’s a global issue, and countries in Africa, Asia, and the global community should collaborate to assure a sustainable future for the healthy coexistence between people and elephants. Let's build a broader coalition and work together.