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article imageChina urged to outlaw ivory sales to prevent elephant extinction

By Nancy Houser     Feb 22, 2015 in Environment
An open letter addressed to China’s president, Xi Jinping, was signed by Sir David Attenborough, conservationists, celebrities and MPs, urging China to act swiftly in order to save African elephants from possible extinction.
The open letter urged immediate action before Prince William’s visit to China next month. Sir David Attenborough personally called on the Chinese president to end China’s ivory trade and to save the elephants by outlawing the buying and selling of ivory, while educating Chinese citizens on issues involving mass ivory sales. A warning has gone out to China, saying that the country risks damaging its international image over their massive ivory trade.
Growing numbers of shops in China are selling overwhelming quantities of ivory, with over 100,000 elephants killed from 2010 to 2012, according to a report from Save the Elephants and The Aspinall Foundation campaign groups.
"Skyrocketing demands for ivory in China—the wholesale price of raw elephant tusks has tripled in just four years since 2010—have sparked a booming trade in smuggled ivory that is driving the unsustainable killing of elephants in Africa," said the group's report, released in the Kenyan capital.
Prince William's visit to China
China is considered to be the world’s largest market for ivory, even though there has been a global ban since 1989. Prince William’s visit on March 4th in Yunnan province will be at a sanctuary for Asian elephants, where the Prince is planning on making a statement on conservation. The focus will be on wildlife trade, with Prince William last speech on ivory including the increased street price of ivory --- increasing from $5 to $2,100 per kg in 25 years – with an increase in poaching matching the price increases.
“Those who look the other way [on the wildlife trade], or spend the illicit proceeds of these crimes, must be held to account,” Prince William's said.
Illegal ivory trade in China
James Morgan / WWF
Even though an international ban exists on trading ivory, China is allowed to trade ivory at a domestic level. However, conservationists are saying that this allows illegal ivory obtained through poaching to be laundered throughout the world — a trade which needs to end immediately in order to protect the African elephants.
Current research shows that China’s affluent middle class is responsible for the increase in ivory.
Researchers said prices for raw ivory in China had risen from $750 (550 euros) per kilo in 2010 to $2,100 (1,540 euros) in 2014.
One of Toronto Zoo s elephants in 2007.
One of Toronto Zoo's elephants in 2007.
Recent statistics show that the number of legal ivory stores in China has increased from 31 in 2004 to 145 last year, while ivory carving factories have increased from nine to 37 in that same period. Current research shows that China’s affluent middle class is responsible for the increase in ivory.
The Guardian reports that "China’s demand for ivory means Tanzania is losing more of its elephants to poaching than any other African country. The Selous reserve in the country’s south has been the hotspot for ivory poaching, with elephant numbers there falling from about 70,000 in 2006 to 13,000 in 2013."
So far, China has dismissed all of these claims as false.
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