China has announced a ban on ivory in what is being hailed as a “game changer” for Africa’s endangered elephant.
Beijing says ivory trading and processing, other than the auctions of “legitimately” sourced antiques, will be outlawed by the end of March 2017.
Conservationists say the move against the Chinese market, which is estimated to buy 70 per cent of the world’s ivory, also puts pressure on neighbouring Hong Kong and Britain to remove loopholes.
“This is great news that will shut down the world’s largest market for elephant ivory,” said Wildlife Conservation Society Asia director Aili King.
“This is a game-changer for Africa’s elephants. We call on all other countries with legal domestic ivory markets to follow China’s lead and close their markets as well.”
Africa is divided over whether to sell the ivory of its elephants, whose continent-wide population has plummeted because of poaching.
Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa will argue for the right to sell ivory at an international wildlife conference that starts Saturday in Johannesburg. They are opposed by about 30 African countries that want to tighten an international ban on the ivory trade.
China, the world’s main ivory consumer, says it plans to close its domestic market.
The pro-trade countries say their elephant populations are large and that funds from ivory sales can be invested in conservation. NZ Herald