The monumental initiative is being hailed as “historic” and a “game-changer”, as 70% of the world's trade presently ends up in the Asian country.
On Friday, China announced that it will close down its domestic ivory trade by the end of 2017 in an effort to tackle the elephant poaching crisis. The monumental initiative is being hailed as “historic” and a “game-changer”, as 70% of the world’s trade presently ends up in the Asian country.
BBC reports that the General Office of the State Council of China declared that China will “cease part of ivory processing and sales by 31 March 2017 and cease all ivory processing and sales by 31 December 2017”. Considering the African elephant is estimated to become extinct within the next decade, this is news to celebrate. Lo She Ping, CEO of WWF-China, agrees.
“WWF applauds China’s decision to ban its domestic ivory trade so swiftly, underlining the government’s determination and strong leadership to reduce demand for ivory and help save Africa’s elephants,” commented Ping.
The move follows a resolution at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Florida (CITES) held in South Africa. During the October event, delegates adopted a resolution calling for all countries with a legal domestic market for ivory to take measures which prevent illegal ivory from being sold and traded.
Because China is home to the largest ivory trade in the world, activists are hopeful that this new ban will encourage other countries to adopt similar initiatives. Says Lo Sze Ping:
“Now that three of the world’s largest domestic ivory markets – China, Hong Kong SAR and the US – are being phased out, we hope that other countries will follow suit. China and the US have shown how quickly markets can be addressed and the sooner the better for Africa’s elephants.”
China was praised for its “great leadership” in the matter by Elly Pepper, deputy director of wildlife trade for the National Resources Defense Council.
“Setting such an aggressive timeline to close – once and for all – the largest domestic ivory market in the world is globally significant,” commented Pepper. “It’s a game changer and could be the pivotal turning point that brings elephants back from the brink of extinction.”
Approximately 20,000 elephants are killed illegally each year in Africa, and much of the ivory that is obtained is shipped to Asia – particularly China. The move will help to protect elephants, but environmental advocates are adamant that the ban isn’t enough. After all, if there’s enough demand for the product, poachers will persist and continue to hunt the majestic beasts.
On this, WWF says that the Chinese government must “continue their efforts to reduce demand for ivory, raise public awareness and work with other governments, conservation organizations, the private sector and local communities to end the illegal ivory trade – and give Africa’s elephants a future free from poaching.”
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