China to ban ivory by 2017

Posted Dec 31, 2016 by Tim Sandle
China has declared a ban on all ivory trade and processing activities by the end of 2017. The decision has been declared "historic" by a number of conservation and environmental groups.
Three tonnes of illegal ivory are displayed on February 6  2014 in front of the Eiffel tower in Pari...
Three tonnes of illegal ivory are displayed on February 6, 2014 in front of the Eiffel tower in Paris
Bertrand Guay, AFP
There are few people who outwardly support the ivory trade', yet it remains lucrative and leads to the slaughter of hundreds of endangered animals each year. The ivory trade is the commercial, invariably illegal trade in the ivory tusks of the hippopotamus, walrus, narwhal, mammoth, and African and Asian elephants. The vast majority of traded ivory comes from elephants and to obtain ivory elephants are killed. The Born Free foundation states that, between 2008 and 2013, the estimated death toll ranged between 30,000 and 50,000 elephants per year. In recent years, populations across Africa have shrunk by a third. There are now only 352,271 African savanna elephants left, living in 18 countries.
A new attempt to stop the illegal trade in ivory was made in October 2016 by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) in South Africa. The focus of the governmental-backed conservation group was China, given that China has the biggest ivory market in the world. The BBC notes that some estimates suggest 70 percent of the world's ivory trade ends up in mainland China. Here the value of ivory can reach $1,100 per kilogram.
The news of an import ban from China appears to have come as a surprise to many conservation groups, although it seems no less welcome, as The Wall Street Journal recounts. Details of the ban have come from China's State Council, and it will begin during March 2017.
Speaking with CNN, Carter Roberts, the president of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said: "China's announcement is a game changer for elephant conservation. The large-scale trade of ivory now faces its twilight years, and the future is brighter for wild elephants. With the U.S. also ending its domestic ivory trade earlier this year, two of the largest ivory markets have taken action that will reverberate around the world."