On the last day of 2017, China made a huge announcement- they were banning legal ivory trading!
This puts 172 factories and stores that deal in the ivory trade out of business.
President Xi Jinping put this plan into place two years ago, in 2015, with the help of Barack Obama, former president of the United States.
China and the U.S. agreed to ban ivory trading completely, save for a select few instances, like antiques. The American ban was put into place in 2017, now China is following suit.
#NowOfficial It’s 31 December in China. The historic #IvoryBan in China has now entered into force! All commercial sales & processing of #elephant #ivory are now illegal in China.#EndPoaching #EndWildlifeTrafficking #CITES #CoP17 pic.twitter.com/OU6zDihDBj
— CITES (@CITES) December 30, 2017
An executive at WildAid, Peter Knights, called this move the best step to get rid of the poaching of elephants.
Wildlife groups have said that 30,000 or more elephants are poached each year in Africa. The activists have lauded the ban as a very important one to end the number of deaths.
China has been one the largest consumers of ivory for use in items such as chopsticks and carved figurines.
This important ban on ivory has impacted the trade by lowering the government seizures of the illegal commodity coming into China by 80 percent already.
2018 can begin with the hope that these beautiful creatures will be safer, according to a representative from WildAid.
— WildAid (@WildAid) December 28, 2017
World Wildlife Fund senior vice president, Ginette Hemley, praises China for closing the markets for ivory. She said they’re showing commitment to not be involved in this horrible practice that killing off so many of Africa’s elephants. She is also a member of the board of TRAFFIC, an organization that keeps track of wildlife trade.
Hemley also ascertains that the ban should be followed by efforts to reduce the demand by changing the behavior of the customers of the trade.
Being that China is among the largest consumers of Ivory, this will be a huge undertaking. The protection of the elephants is crucial, so the steps being taken are imperative to their safety.
The ban conveys the message loud and clear that the living creatures carry more importance that the items made as a result of their deaths. The ivory carving culture must come to an end.
A Ph.D. student, Gao Yufang, studying cultural anthropology and biological conservation calls the ban a step forward.
In 1990, and international ban took place, excluding China. They were permitted to continue and promote the sales of ivory. The legal supply of ivory was mainly from Africa, by a huge one time purchase in 2008.
The trouble is that having it remain legal invites trouble, as illegal traffickers will always find a way in. Experts say the legal sale that one time drove the numbers of elephants poached way up after the fact.
Although they can’t be sure yet how significant the ban in China will be in the trade overall, they are already seeing a decrease in price for ivory items. The market is getting smaller by the day.
Many Chinese people are coming around and realizing that wildlife conservation issues are important, the draw of owning ivory is going to be hard to change due to the status symbol it represents.
The word xiangya, literally “elephant tooth” misleads those unaware of the reality into thinking that it’s no big deal and it is taken from the animal with no pain or lasting effect. A poll taken in 2007 revealed that more than 2/3 of the Chinese population were unaware that elephants must be killed in order to harvest their ivory.
Several campaigns will take place to make the citizens aware of the ban, such as posters, articles and videos. Social media and outlets such as newspapers and television will aid in spreading the word.
The first set of closures started back in March 2017, and the rest are expected to be closed at this year’s end.
Eighty six percent of people support the decision to ban legal ivory, according to a survey by TRAFFIC, after they were informed of it. Only nineteen percent knew before the survey took place.
Closing the factories and shops will prove the commitment by the Chinese government to play their part in ending the poaching of Africa’s elephants.