Will Chinese Millennials diverge from their elders’ and ancestors’ infatuation with consuming the world’s endangered species?
“Worth thousands of dollars on the Chinese black market.”
That statement alone should make you shudder with regards to what the Chinese economy is set to do to the world’s endangered wildlife. With nearly 1.4 billion people, 70% of which are up and coming middle class — many of whom will be subscribing to the traditions of their ancestors — China will soon be eating, drinking, buying and owning the world’s critically threatened species.
Elephant ivory. Rhino horn. Exotic bear, tiger, simian, marsupial and fish organs. The consumption of all of these and hundreds, if not thousands, of other medicinal and collectible parts of animals, are all on the rise in China.
Yes, the Western world had, as its toy, for centuries, the undeveloped world. The United States extracted one of the greatest tolls on the planet as it sucked at the planet’s resources before, during, and after the country’s golden years. And then the rest of the industrialized world caught on and replicated America’s rapacious exploitation. Colonialism started it, but transnational corporations are finishing it. And yet, through it all, the West seems to have found religion. They’ve realized the detrimental impact they have on the species of the world (or so they would have us think; I do believe the West is trying to be a good curator now).
But China and India (and the other countries of Asia?) they’re just getting started in their consumption cycles. If just a third of China’s middle class all want to own an ivory trinket of some sort (to honor tradition, or establish a wealth designation) that alone will have 300 million Chinese buying carved ivory — extracted mostly through illegal sources — effectively wiping out the entire African elephant population.
And that’s just the elephants. A million apothecaries all trying to get black bear pancreases, or tiger penises, or pangolin fetuses, or totoaba bladders (a fish), will utterly destroy the populations of such species.
So, I ask, will the Chinese Millennials alter the future of their people and reject such ancient superstitious traditions and help save, rather than consume, the world’s endangered species?