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article imageChina's need for ivory is killing off the world's elephants

By Karen Graham     Dec 9, 2014 in Environment
Nairobi - On Tuesday, conservationists reported that the slaughter of Africa's elephants and the illegal trade in ivory taking place in China is "out of control'" If illegal killing continues, elephants in the wild will disappear within a generation, they say.
The demand for ivory as a "status symbol" for the newly wealthy is growing by leaps and bounds in Asia, and especially in China. China's improving economy has spawned a materialistic need for something to prove how much better off someone may be, and an item made from real ivory seems to be the latest fad.
The Kenya-based conservation group Save the Elephants released a report, "China Faces a Conservation Challenge" on Tuesday. In it they say the wholesale price of raw tusks has tripled since 2010 while retail prices increased 13 times over in Beijing shops alone between 2002 and 2014. Save the Elephants also says that between 2010 and 2012, over 100,000 elephants were killed in Africa by poachers.
The figures are staggering and difficult to envision, leaving the mind's eyes seeing row upon row of dead elephants, left to decompose for want of their tusks. Because of the killings, China is experiencing increasing difficulties in their diplomatic relationships with many countries in Africa and around the world. And China should be ashamed. Of the thousands of ivory trinkets and figurines sold in China, over 26.7 percent are made from illegal ivory.
Believe it or not, but the carving and sale of ivory is legal in China, and is supposed to be tightly controlled. In 2013, only 37 permits were issued to companies that work with ivory, and 145 outlets were allowed to sell ivory. According to Chinese law "collection cards" are required for the identification of any ivory sold.
The report's authors, Lucy Vigne and Esmond Martin, say they visited eight ivory carving companies and 303 outlets in Shanghai and Beijing selling elephant and mammoth ivory. The report found that in Beijing, where four out of five ivory shops are illegal, the price of a 1-5 kg tusk rose to about $2,100 in 2014 from about $750 in 2010.
More about status symbol, new wealth, China, Africa, Poaching
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