China has won a huge battle in the war against elephants.
On Friday 30th December 2016, China’s State Council announced a ban on all ivory trading and processing activities.
China is currently the biggest ivory market in the world – about 70% of the world’s trade ends up there.
Conservation group WWF welcomed the latest news, calling it a historic announcement. It signals the end to the world’s primary legal ivory market and it will help to tackle the elephant poaching crisis in Africa.
The commercial processing and sale of ivory will stop by March 31st this year. This will phase out all registered traders and it will bring a full halt to the market by the end of 2017.
The ban follows a resolution at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) in South Africa in October last year.
While the international market in ivory has been closed since 1989, legal domestic markets have continued in many countries around the world. A surge in the killing of elephants over the past seven years has seen populations across Africa shrink by a third, according to the recently published Great Elephant Census.
Elly Pepper, deputy director of wildlife trade for the Natural Resources Defense Council, praised China for its “great leadership” on the issue.
She said “setting such an aggressive timeline to close – once and for all – the largest domestic ivory market in the world is globally significant. It’s a game changer and could be the pivotal turning point that brings elephants back from the brink of extinction.”