“Game changer” for elephants as China bans ivory trade by the end of 2017

One year from today, the world’s main trading and processing hub for ivory will be completely shut down.

China’s State Council announced the details of the ban on the carving and sale of ivory by the end of 2017 – a move that was applauded by conservationists and animal lovers around the world.

The commercial processing and sale of ivory will end by 31 March, and all registered traders will then be phased out, bringing a complete stop to the market by Dec. 31, 2017, the government announced.

“To strengthen the protection of the object, to combat illegal trade in ivory, the State Council agreed to orderly stop the commercial processing and sales of ivory and products related matters,” the government said Friday.

Nations around the world have been cracking down on poachers, banning importation of ivory products and burning stocks of confiscated ivory.

Zeleke Tigabe Abuhay/African Wildlife Foundation
Zeleke Tigabe Abuhay/African Wildlife Foundation

The WWF called China’s announcement, “Huge news for elephant conservation! China announces it will close it’s domestic ivory trade by the end of 2017.”

The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Asia Executive Director Aili Kang said ivory traffickers have just lost one of their biggest markets.

“I am very proud of my country for showing this leadership that will help ensure that elephants have a fighting chance to beat extinction,” Kang said. “This is a game changer for Africa’s elephants.”

African elephants are being poached by some measures at a rate of dozen each day to feed, in large measure, the Chinese market for trinkets, art and jewelry made from ivory.

Elephants at David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya/Facebook

Philanthropists and celebrities also weighed in as the ivory trade has been on pace to wipe out elephant species due to poaching for their tusks.

Chinese officials plan to help ivory carvers transfer their skills by working with museums and cultural institutions in art restoration work and use of materials other than ivory.

The government said it will manage the legitimate collection of ivory relics and prohibit trading in the marketplace with transfer of ownership under strict supervision.

It also pledged to “intensify the crackdown on illegal processing and sales, transportation, smuggling of ivory and products, focusing on the investigation and destruction of illegal processing dens.”

The Tsavo Trust/Facebook
The Tsavo Trust/Facebook

Main photo Born Free Foundation

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