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Alibaba Chief Pushes to Protect Endangered Species in Africa

Jack Ma, executive chairman of Alibaba Group, in Nairobi. Ben Curtis — AP

The Paradise Foundation said Friday it will devote $1.65 billion over ten years to help protect key areas in Africa that are home to many native—and endangered—animals.

The goal of the effort—announced in Kigali, Rwanda by Alibaba baba executive chairman Jack Ma, who is also co-chairman of the foundation, is to safeguard elephants, black rhinos, and gorillas.

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The foundation, formed two years ago to boost conservation efforts in China, hopes to help Chinese charities work with Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve, Congo’s Virunga National Park, and other parks to step up protections. It is also pushing for laws restricting the trade of ivory, rhino horn, and other animal products. Large markets for these items in China, and elsewhere in Asia, create demand which leads to the poaching of endangered species. The new funding will fund patrol staff at the parks.

The other Paradise Foundation co-chair is Tencent tcehy CEO Pony Ma. (The two men, who are both among the richest people on the planet, are not related).

Former Houston Rockets NBA star Yao Ming has worked for years to educate his country about the need to stop using product derived from endangered animals.

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“Conserving nature and protecting the resources of the human race is a calling that transcends borders,” Alibaba’s Ma said in a statement. “Africa is the natural habitat for a range of wildlife that is threatened by illegal hunting and trading.”

According to the foundation, the number of African elephants has fallen to fewer than 600,000 and is declining 38,000 every year.

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