China has made the incredible decision to close a third of its ivory factories and shops by the end of today, in the first stage of its ‘total ban’ initiative.
By the end of the day, China will have shut down 12 out of 34 factories and 55 of its ivory shops throughout the country, which marks the start of a ‘game changer’ for the endangered elephants.
On top of this, the country has agreed to ban ivory products completely by the end of the year, in a landmark decision which will hugely effect numbers of the vulnerable animal, as well as the global trade, the WWF reports.
The WWF’s chief wildlife adviser, Heather Sohl said:
On average one elephant is killed by poachers every 25 minutes in Africa.
China has the world’s largest ivory market, so their announcement that the first stage of their ban is on track is a positive step for elephants. We hope that this promising progress continues and China implements its full ban by the end of this year.
Lianne from the charity added:
China is the world’s largest ivory market and its trade ban is a significant conservation win for elephants. We are extremely pleased to see that China has announced the first stage of implementing their ban is on track.
Should this progress continue and the ban be fully implemented by the end of this year, we would expect to see a significant reduction in demand and therefore illegal ivory trade, which is fuelling the poaching crisis overseas.
The ban will render all ivory in market illegal by the end of this year and law-abiding consumers and retailers will no longer purchase ivory products. Strong law enforcement will be essential to ensure the ban doesn’t push China’s ivory market underground.
Warning: Extremely graphic image below.
China has previously bought 70 per cent of the world’s ivory, resulting in more than 100,000 elephants losing their lives unnecessarily to poachers, in the last 10 years,
This new ‘complete ban,’ hopes to abolish the 800-900 cases of ivory smuggled into China each year and will give the dwindling population of the majestic creatures, a chance to recover.
Lianne from the WWF explained:
We strongly encourage other countries that have legal ivory markets that are contributing to the illegal trade to urgently adopt similar trade bans. This is particularly important for China’s immediate neighbours, to prevent its legal ivory stocks going into other markets.
WWF-China chief executive Lo Sze Ping also 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.
Worryingly, African ivory in China is considered a status symbol and is often priced around £891 per kilo.
China’s State Council stated:
To better protect elephants and better tackle the illegal trade … China will gradually stop the processing and sale of ivory for commercial purposes.
Although it is fantastic news a global giant is tackling this cruel trade, there are still many countries – including the UK – needing to follow suit and implement a total ban.
Despite China’s actions, the UK still allows the sale of ivory antiques – made before 1947 – but are promising to abolish the trade entirely, in the hopefully not too distant future.
Lismne from the WWF continued:
In recent months there has been significant progress worldwide to address the illegal ivory trade. In addition to China’s monumental trade ban announcement, the US introduced a near-total ban, Hong Kong announced its timetable for closing its domestic market, France has strengthened regulations on its legal ivory trade and Singapore announced it will consider banning its ivory trade.
Although the UK is not considered to be one of those markets contributing most to the global illegal ivory trade, recent evidence has revealed that the UK’s legal ivory market has been used as a cover for trade in illegal ivory and some legal shipments are destined for Asia. This shows that current policies must be strengthened.
WWF is calling for a ban on the UK’s legal elephant ivory trade to stop any contribution to stimulating the global demand for ivory. This is of particular importance to ensure ivory trade from the UK is not fuelling demand for ivory overseas and in turn, playing any part in the global illegal ivory trade.
The WWF and other animal rights groups hope China’s ban will increase the pressure on the UK and Hong Kong to follow suit and remove this vital loop hole in the selling of ivory.
This announcement brings further attention to the UK government’s own actions. It’s vital they start their public consultation on the UK’s legal ivory trade as soon as possible.
The world will be looking to the UK as London hosts the next Illegal Wildlife Trade conference in 2018 and we risk our reputation as a world leader in tackling illegal wildlife trade.
The UK must send a strong message that we refuse to play any part in the illegal ivory trade.
Lianne from the charity said:
It is estimated that around 20,000 African elephants are killed by poachers for their ivory every year. If this continues at the same rate elephants in Central Africa could be extinct within our lifetime. Trade bans alone won’t stop the poaching crisis, it is imperative to tackle demand reduction, corruption and ensure countries are effectively enforcing wildlife laws.
China’s move is a gigantic leap in the right direction and can only mean good things for the future and welfare of the hugely endangered species.
Hopefully the UK will follow in their footsteps, which will mean the move to a total, worldwide ban will be that little bit closer.