Great news for animal lovers! On December 31, 2017, the last commercial ivory carving factories and shops closed their doors in China. If any remain open, they are now operating illegally and will be dealt with accordingly.
Last year, the Chinese government pledged to shut down the country’s domestic ivory market. Animal lovers have been eagerly awaiting this moment. This is a move that promises to save thousands of wild elephants from being killed by poachers for their ivory. Immediately after the announcement, the 67 legal ivory factories and retail shops shut down on March 31, 2017, While the remaining 105 closed the end of the year.
“The closure of China’s ivory market is a historic milestone in the effort to save elephants,” Iris Ho, wildlife program manager for Humane Society International (HSI), said in a statement. “When China, the world’s largest ivory market and a country that once designated ivory carving as an intangible cultural tradition, can resoundingly reject the ivory trade, no other country should have any excuse to drag their feet on banning this pernicious trade.”
Animal lovers and conservationists remain on guard about the future.
“Without teeth, any law could be broken and any ban, even in the world’s biggest ivory-consuming country, in isolation won’t secure a long-term future for elephants,” Rob Brandford, executive director of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT), said in a statement. “Additionally we must be extremely mindful of any illegal trade moving to countries neighboring China, noticeably Vietnam and Thailand, as what is critical is that we end all trade and we cannot afford for criminal syndicates involved in ivory to simply move their operations to other countries with more open rules on the sale of ivory.”
“This law should, however, shut the door on the ability to buy ivory and, as such, make it harder for illegal ivory to be filtered into the market,” Brandford added. “So there’s no doubt that it could help reduce the poaching of Africa’s elephants. As long-living and slow-reproducing animals, elephants need a reprieve from poaching so that numbers can recover so this is a positive step forward.”
Time will tell how this ban will affect wild elephant populations in Africa. Animal advocates believe that China’s move is an important one — and it will hopefully change elephants’ lives for the better.
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