China’s ivory trade has wreaked havoc on the elephant population. Approximately 35,000 elephants are killed annually, largely in part due to the illegal international ivory trade demanded in China primarily. The need to reduce demand for ivory is vital for stopping the endangered Asian elephant and threatened African elephant.
According to Save the Elephants researchers, while the wholesale price in early 2014 was $2,100 per kilogram, it had dropped to $730 per kilogram by last month.
“An economic slowdown has resulted in fewer people able to afford luxury goods; a crack-down on corruption is dissuading business people from buying expensive ivory items as ‘favours’ for government officials, and the Chinese government has made a strong commitment to close down the nation’s legal ivory trade,” Save the Elephants said in a statement.
In December 2016, China announced its plan to outlaw ivory sales by March, and then move onto phasing out the entire market by the end of the year. The announcement came after years of pressure from environmental groups.
“Now that three of the world’s largest domestic ivory markets – China, Hong Kong SAR and the U.S. – are being phased out, we hope that other countries will follow suit,” said Lo Sze Ping, CEO of conservation group World Wide Fund for Nature. “China and the U.S. have shown how quickly markets can be addressed and the sooner the better for Africa’s elephants.”
“Will demand for illicit ivory items go up or down?” the Save the Elephant’s recent report states. “Will prices rise or fall? Will carvers continue to produce ivory items in larger or smaller quantities illegally?”
But while uncertainty remains regarding Hong Kong’s plans, as well as underground trade, China’s ban is a great start.
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