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African rangers support Hong Kong ivory ban

A Kenyan ranger was among those who addressed Hong Kong's Legislative Council (LegCo) last week urging lawmakers to support a ban on ivory sales in the city.

(c)Alex Hofford/WildAidSamburu wildlife protector Chris Leadismo, of Save the Elephants, made a harrowing and emotional appeal for the safety of rangers who defend the frontlines against elephant poachers.

"I represent the community that I am from – the Samburu people – and many others that have suffered insecurity and death at the hands of poachers who are willing to supply the ivory trade at all costs. We have fought hard to turn the tide of poaching," said Leadismo.

"I still recall the death of my very closest friend Joseph, who was shot dead while in the line of duty in June this year. There is still pain in my heart," he said.

WildAid joined Leadismo as he viewed ivory carvings for sale in a Hong Kong shop. "I feel very bad. I know some of them, they are from my place – Samburu. Most of them come from Kenya or East Africa," he said.

Rangers from Democratic Republic of the Congo's Garamba National Park, and Chad's Zakouma National Park took to social media to express their support for the ivory ban.

Leadismo said that he worries that if Hong Kong traders are compensated for their stocks as proposed by traders, "more elephants will die to fuel this trade, and I will lose more comrades, or even my life as a wildlife ranger."

Hong Kong lawmakers will meet for another LegCo Bill Committee meeting on 17 October 2017, at which they could decide to meet for another Bill Committee meeting in November or December. They could also opt to go back to a second reading of the bill in the main chamber of LegCo, which, after many years of campaigning by WildAid, would trigger a final vote on the Hong Kong government's proposed ivory ban.