China on Thursday rejected allegations that two of its diplomats smuggled ivory from Uganda.
“The Chinese embassy officials are suspected of helping move ivory from the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and South Sudan, using Uganda as a transit point,” Ali Munira, a spokeswoman for Uganda’s top anti-corruption body, told AFP this week.
Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni directed the two diplomats to be probed into the alleged wildlife interference.
China has denied such allegations terming them totally unfounded but at the same time vowed to punish them if found guilty.
“We have rigorous regulations and laws on governmental officials, embassy members, and visiting groups to forbid them from buying or engaging in [smuggling] activities,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters.
“We have rigorous regulations and laws on governmental officials, embassy members, and visiting groups to forbid them from buying or engaging in (smuggling) activities,” she added.
Poaching is a major factor contributing to the rapid decline in the numbers of African elephants, with about 20,000 slaughtered every year, according to the WildAid’s wildlife organization.
It says about 415,000 African elephants remain today, compared with the 3 to 5 million in the early 20th century. The animal is officially listed as a vulnerable species.