This week China announced that it will shut down its domestic ivory trade by the end of 2017.
Activists are calling this a “game changer” for African elephants. 70% of the world’s ivory trade ends up in China. According to Aili Kang, an executive director of the Wildlife Conservation Society in Asia, “This is great news that will shut down the world’s largest market for elephant ivory.”
According to the BBC, the General Office of the State Council of China declared that China will “cease part of ivory processing and sales by 31 March 2017 and cease all ivory processing and sales by 31 December 2017.”
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which took effect in 1975, banned ivory trade in 1989. But China, like other countries, permits the resale of ivory bought before the ban. They also have a stockpile purchased with CITES approval in 2008, which it released for sale with certification.
It is common for traffickers to launder illegal ivory under cover of the legal ivory trade.
More than 20,000 elephants were killed for their ivory last year, leaving only about 415,000 remaining.