• Fri
  • Dec 19, 2014
  • Updated: 5:18am

China pillages Africa like old colonialists, says wildlife expert Jane Goodall

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 February, 2014, 1:34pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 February, 2014, 5:36pm

China is exploiting Africa’s resources just like European colonisers did, with disastrous effects for the environment, acclaimed primatologist Jane Goodall has said.

On the eve of her 80th birthday, the fiery British wildlife crusader is whizzing across the world giving a series of lectures on the threats to our planet.

And the rising world power’s involvement on the continent especially raises alarms when it comes to her beloved chimpanzees and wildlife habitats.

During the last decade China has been investing heavily in African natural resources, developing mines, oil wells and running related construction companies.

Activists accuse Chinese firms of paying little attention to the environmental impact of their race for resources.

“In Africa, China is merely doing what the colonialist did. They want raw materials for their economic growth, just as the colonialists were going into Africa and taking the natural resources, leaving people poorer,” she said in an interview in Johannesburg.

The stakes for the environment may even be larger this time round, she warns.

“China is bigger, and the technology has improved... It is a disaster.”

In Africa, China is merely doing what the colonialist did
Jane Goodall

Other than massive investment in Africa’s mines, China is also a big market for elephant tusks and rhino horn, which has driven poaching of these animals to alarming heights.

But Goodall, who rose to fame through her ground-breaking research on chimpanzees in Tanzania, is optimistic.

“I do believe China is changing,” she said, citing as one example Beijing’s recent destruction of illegal ivory stockpiles.

“I think 10 years ago, even with international pressure, we would never have had an ivory crush. But they have,” she added.

“I think 10 years ago the government would never have banned shark fin soup on official occasions. But they have.”

‘Small window of time’

Her organisation Roots and Shoots, founded over two decades ago to instil conservation values in children, has also become involved in China.

“We work with hundreds of Chinese children, and they are not different from children we work with here. They all love nature, they love animals, they want to help, there’s no difference because they’re Chinese,” she said.

Young people’s enthusiasm to change the world is a major reason to hope, for this lady with seemingly inexhaustible energy who can still keep an auditorium hanging on her words for more than an hour.

“These young people will become the next parents, the next teachers, the next lawyers, the next business people and the next politicians, some of them.”

“The biggest problem is that people understand but don’t know what to do,” she said.

“If you have one thousand, one million or eventually several million people all making the right choice, all thinking about the consequence of their behaviour, then we’re going to see big change.”

Another glimmer of hope is “this amazing resilience of nature,” she continued, citing as an example the China’s Loess Plateau on the Yellow River bouncing back after massive soil erosion.

“It was set to be the biggest totally destroyed ecosystem in the world,” she said.

A US$400-million project funded by the Chinese government and international donors introduced better farming methods in the area, which greatly reduced erosion and lifted 2.5 million people out of poverty, according to the World Bank.

“That took a lot of money, but if you look at it now, it’s all green, lush and farmland, and children have come back from the cities. It’s even got a whole area for wildlife,” said Goodall.

“We still have a small window of time to change things.”


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This article is now closed to comments

"Activists accuse Chinese firms of paying little attention to the environmental impact of their race for resources."
Chinese firms don't care about environmental impact on their own country, why would they care about impact on other countries?
I wonder why the africans themselves can't do anything. Why they need the europeans, americans and chinese to do all the work?
WHAT DOES AN EXPERT OF CHIMPANZEES KNOW? "Dame Jane Morris Goodall, DBE (born Valerie Jane Morris-Goodall on 3 April 1934) is a British primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist, and UN Messenger of Peace. Considered to be the world's foremost expert on chimpanzees, Goodall is best known for her 45-year study of social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania."
The truth hurts...right?
If one wished to see an African rain forest one needed only visit Chiwan port ten years back. it was lying there, on its side.
isn't imitation the highest form of flattery?
the Western powers, particularly the USA, own hypocrisy.
How many colonies did the USA have?
Unlike the European colonialists, China is paying a fair price for the resources and does not have armed forces in Africa to colonize the continent.
I think Goodall has been with chimpanzees too long.
Before you criticize the lady, you better try to know what is going on in Africa. You seem to have no idea. We work with Chinese companies in Africa and we face stiff resistance at times from the local governments because of the attitudes of other Chinese firms.
Congratulations... you know how to look people up on Wikipedia. Quite the researcher you are. What's your next trick for us?



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