Ivory Trade Shutdown: China makes drastic 2017 turnaround

The Ivory Trade takes an almost immeasurable toll on many of the world’s most endangered animals.

China, one of the largest markets for Ivory, has announced plans to halt its domestic ivory trade completely by the end of 2017.

Chinese customs officers stand guard in front of confiscated ivory and ivory products at Chinas first public ivory destruction event in Dongguan city, south Chinas Guangdong province, 6 January 2014. China crushed a pile of ivory reportedly weighing over six tonnes on Monday (6 January 2013), in a landmark event aimed at shedding its image as a global hub for the illegal trade in African elephant tusks. Clouds of dust emerged as masked workers fed tusks into crushing machines in what was described as the first ever public destruction of ivory in China. The event in the southern city of Dongguan was the countrys latest effort to discourage illegal ivory trade, protect wildlife and raise public awareness, the official news agency Xinhua said. Experts believe that most illegal ivory is headed to China -- where products made from the material have long been seen as status symbols -- with some estimating the country accounts for as much as 70 percent of global demand. Chinese forestry and customs officials oversaw the destruction, which was shown live by state broadcaster CCTV. It reported that the ivory weighed 6.1 tonnes and had been seized over a period of years. AP891275126596
Chinese customs officers stand guard in front of confiscated ivory and ivory products at Chinas first public ivory destruction event in Dongguan city, south Chinas Guangdong province, 6 January 2014.

Officials in Beijing stated that ivory trading and processing, other than the auctions of “legitimately” sourced antiques, will be outlawed by the end of March 2017.

Conservationists say the move against the Chinese market, which is estimated to buy 70 per cent of the world’s ivory, also puts pressure on neighbouring Hong Kong and Britain to remove loopholes.”

(Source – The Indepndent).

“This is great news that will shut down the world’s largest market for elephant ivory,” – Wildlife Conservation Society Asia director Aili King. “This is a game-changer for Africa’s elephants. We call on all other countries with legal domestic ivory markets to follow China’s lead and close their markets as well.”

WWF-China chief executive Lo Sze Ping added: “Closing the world’s largest legal ivory market will deter people in China and beyond from buying ivory, and make it harder for ivory traffickers to sell their illegal stocks.”

“China’s announcement is a game changer for elephant conservation,” Carter Roberts, president of the World Wildlife Fund, said in a statement. “The large-scale trade of ivory now faces its twilight years, and the future is brighter for wild elephants.”

According to The Washington Post:

The Natural Resources Defense Council, a New York-based environmental advocacy group, said the news “may be the biggest sign of hope for elephants since the current poaching crisis began,” while Grace Ge Gabriel, Asia director at the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said she was “overwhelmed with joy.”

“This is great news that will shut down the world’s largest market for elephant ivory,” said Aili Kang, Asia director at the Wildlife Conservation Society. “Ivory traffickers have just lost one of their biggest markets.”

It is a huge step for a country that had previously argued that ivory carving was part of its cultural heritage and where intricately carved ivory items had become popular gifts to grease the wheels of government and business.

The government was moved not just by international pressure but also by changing attitudes among ordinary Chinese. Celebrities such as former NBA star Yao Ming have led campaigns to “stop the buying” of ivory — and simply to educate people that elephants had to die for the ivory to be taken.

China’s State Council said African ivory, a status symbol priced at around $1,100 (£891) per kilo, will be phased out from 31 March.”

The Wall Street Journal reported:

“Conservationists estimate China’s ivory industry comprises 89 companies employing fewer than 3,000 people, while their remaining ivory stock is worth less than $156 million, according to a 2016 report by World Wildlife Fund and wildlife-trade monitor Traffic.

Many of these firms have started to diversify their operations, which suggests “not all affected employees will lose their livelihoods as a consequence of an ivory trade ban,” the report said.

It wasn’t clear how China’s ban may affect the ivory trade in Hong Kong, where authorities in December proposed legislative changes to end the local ivory trade by 2021. Industry representatives have opposed the plan, which the city’s legislature will consider in the coming months. Some wildlife conservationists expressed concern Hong Kong’s slower ban could turn the former British colony into a ivory-trading hot spot.”

Should more countries follow on from this ruling, the impact on many endangered species could be hugely beneficial. Remove the demand and the market, and poaching numbers will inevitably decline. That’s the hope anyway.

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