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China bans ivory trade by year end

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Ivory is displayed before being crushed during a public event in Dongguan, south China’s Guangdong province, January 2, 2014. AFP

Ivory is displayed before being crushed during a public event in Dongguan, south China’s Guangdong province, January 2, 2014. AFP 

By Allan Olingo

Posted  Tuesday, January 10   2017 at  20:31

In Summary

  • Analysts now fear that illegal traders, holding large inventories of ivory, will seek out new markets in Asia, just as they did in China after Japan banned ivory products.
  • Wildlife activists will be closely watching other Asian markets, led by Vietnam and Hong Kong, that have also provided the market for ivory.

Ivory markets are set to shut down following the banning of the trade in the world’s biggest market, China, which is good news for the African elephant.

Wildlife activists will be closely watching other Asian markets, led by Vietnam and Hong Kong, that have also provided the market for ivory.

Last week, China’s State Council announced a ban on all ivory trade and processing activities in the country by the end of this year. This signals the implementation of President Xi Jinping’s joint commitment with US President Barack Obama, in 2015, to end the legal and illegal trade in ivory.

The ban by China — with an estimated 70 per cent of the global consumption — will be done in stages; the processing and sale of ivory will stop by March 31, followed by all registered traders being phased out, bringing an end to the trade in the country by the end of the year.

“There will be a stop in the ivory fixed-point processing unit or point-of-sale processing and sales of ivory and products activities by the end of the year,” the statement from the State Council, released last Friday, says. The news comes barely six months after Beijing announced it would push for the total ban on the ivory trade within its territory by the end of the year.

Yan Xun, deputy general director of the country’s Department of Wildlife Conservation and Nature Reserve Management, had said that by the end of 2016 China would set a timetable to phase out commercial trade in ivory

The move by China follows its four-year ban on ivory hunting trophy imports imposed last year by the Chinese Forestry Administration.

During President Jinping’s visit to the US last September, President Obama pressed Beijing to take significant and timely steps to end the trade.

Analysts now fear that illegal traders, holding large inventories of ivory, will seek out new markets in Asia, just as they did in China after Japan banned ivory products.

Edwin Wiek from Wildlife Friends Foundation said traders are likely to go underground.

“I am sceptical about the ban’s effectiveness. I don’t see the victory yet, until we have dealt also with the alternative markets. Then, we can claim victory,” Mr Wiek said.

Cristian Samper, president of the Wildlife Conservation Society, said that a ban in both China and the US would send a message to the world that ivory markets are shutting down.

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