I had never stepped foot in Africa before being introduced to AWF. My interest in the organization’s work on the continent was immediate, however.
Africa and its wildlife had always held an allure for me. So to find an organization that recognized a need and was eager to engage China in conserving Africa’s wildlife and wild lands was exciting.
I did not fully comprehend how important it is to protect what’s left of the continent’s incomparable landscapes and wildlife until my first visit to Africa. Immediately, I knew I wanted my child to have the same opportunities to experience the awe I felt while observing an elephant herd in the bush… the thrill of spying a lion stalking through the tall grass… and the sense of peace I experienced while standing under an expansive sky and seeing nothing but wilderness in all directions.
I realized then that if we do not all take action, the wonders of Africa will disappear before my daughter, or anyone’s sons or daughters, get a chance to experience them.
Starting at Home
For me, “taking action” begins at home. Much of the Chinese general public still has not connected the dots between what has been “tradition” in our country—purchasing decorative ivory carvings—and the horrific poaching crisis occurring in Africa. It is up to us to educate our countrymen.
And we must also engage Chinese industry, which has had monumental impact on African landscapes over the past two decades. Much of it has produced positive development for Africa, but there have been far too many negative impacts on the environment in the process. Those of us engaged in business must do better.
So, I am taking action. I am taking action because I am Chinese. And because I am a parent. And because I am a businessman. But most importantly, I am taking action because I am a proud citizen of this planet… and I want to make a difference.
Gordon Cheng is CEO of Cameron Pace Group – China and an AWF trustee.