China’s ever-increasing presence in African countries can’t be ignored. Since the 90’s, China has been staking its claim in oil, infrastructure and mining projects across the dark continent. What does their business mean to Africans? Is this an economic investment or a global takeover? Either way, what can’t be denied is the environmental sabotage in their wake. (See previous post: Africa’s Asian Invasion)
They have built controversial damns across the continent (Gabon, Ghana, Zambia, Ethiopia, and Sudan) which have had adverse environmental impact. For example, in Ghana the Bui Dam Project is flooding nearly a quarter of the Bui National Park, destroying habitat for rare hippos, forcibly resettling 2,600 people and affecting thousands more.
They are also responsible for long-term river and farmland pollution from mining projects in South Africa and Ghana. One recent project, the China-Africa Sunlight Energy has received permission to mine coal in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. This is a delicate and crucial wildlife area that mining will likely damage, as well as exposing the wild animals to poaching.
But perhaps the most obvious infraction on mother nature is in the killing of the elephants to smuggle their ivory.
Chinese construction camps in Africa have long been suspected of smuggling ivory. A CNN report reveals that numerous camps in the Republic of Congo and neighbouring countries are suspected of facilitating the large-scale ivory trade.
Although workers at the camps have at times been caught red-handed, prosecution does not come easy. Actual investigation of the camps is even more difficult, as in once incident a regional prosecutor blocked an anti-poaching unit from searching a camp – even though ivory pieces were found there.
According to CNN, when asked about the incident, the prosecutor said the search was halted because the translator for the Chinese was away and they couldn’t conduct a search without explaining to the Chinese why it was happening.
Many of these camps are set up near small villages, which have their own track record of poaching involvement. Poor villagers, ivory-hungry workers-a potent combination; but add in law enforcement turning a blind eye, it’s a complete disaster.