The government of China has announced that it will ban the total trade in ivory by the end of this year, Shanghai Daily reported this week, as pressure mounts on the world’s largest economy to play a critical part in eradicating the poaching of African elephants.
“To better protect elephants and better tackle the illegal trade, China will gradually stop the processing and sale of ivory for commercial purposes by the end of 2017,” the online publication said, quoting a statement from the State Council.
The decision is set to affect the country’s 34 processing enterprises and 143 designated trading venues, with dozens to be closed by the end of March, Shanghai Daily said on Monday.
Mainland China and Hong Kong are believed to be the world’s top markets for African ivory, where one kilogramme could fetch up to US$1 500.
Tanzania, which lost 60% of its elephants to poaching in the past five years, is said to have welcomed the news.
“It’s a big relief to us. We have been spending a lot of money on protecting elephants. The fact that China and Hong Kong are the major remaining markets for Tanzania ivory, the ban is a relief,” local media reports quoted tourism minister Jumanne Maghembe as saying in the capital Dar es Salaam.
Tanzania is only left with 43 330 elephants, down from 109 051 back in 2009, according to government figures. At least 20 000 elephants are being slaughtered for their tusks every year, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
Photo: Shanghai Daily