China to Ban All Ivory Trade by 2017 to Save the Elephant Population
News| | By Margo Gothelf
In an effort to protect the remaining elephants in the world, the Chinese government announced plans to phase out all ivory trade by the end of 2017.
The ivory trade has devastated the elephant community in the past 25 years, killing off almost half a million elephants. In 1989, a ban was put on ivory trade hoping to combat the issues, however it didn’t stop poachers from achieving their goals.
“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,” Carter Roberts, the president and CEO of WWF, said in a statement. “With the US also ending its domestic ivory trade earlier this year, two of the largest ivory markets have taken action that will reverberate around the world.”
Organizations have tried to stop the poaching at the source in Africa, yet the demand in China keeps the poaching business up and running.
“Addressing the demand is absolutely essential if we are going to deal with the poaching issues,” John Robinson said to the Wildlife Conservation Society. “Almost all the ivory is for carving. China has had a history of doing so. Whole tusks are carved into elaborately assembled pieces of one kind or another.”
China plans to shut down the trading by the end of the year, putting the ivory carvers to work in museums helping carving pieces and projects. The ban will allow only non-commercial sites to display ivory.
China hopes the new ban will inspire other countries, such as Japan and the United Kingdom, to follow suit and ban ivory trade. The United States has already put several bans into place, with many states having their own rules.
“China’s exit from the ivory trade is the greatest single step that could be taken to reduce poaching for elephants,” Peter Knights, WildAid CEO, said in a statement.
According to the Great Elephant Census, there are approximately 400,000 to 500,000 elephants roaming around Africa.
The ban on ivory could be a new hope for the elephant population.
“It’s a game changer and could be the pivotal turning point that brings elephants back from the brink of extinction,” conservation expert Elly Pepper said at the Natural Resources Defense Council.