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Joyce writes: "The biggest source of demand for ivory has been China."

A worker carries spray bottles of gel fuel to help the burning, as he walks past pyres of ivory that were set on fire. (photo: Ben Curtis)
A worker carries spray bottles of gel fuel to help the burning, as he walks past pyres of ivory that were set on fire. (photo: Ben Curtis)

China Says It Will Shut Down Its Ivory Trade in 2017

By Christopher Joyce, NPR

03 January 17


lmost a million elephants roamed Africa 25 years ago. Assessments of their population now vary, but suggest there are fewer than half that many. The main reason for the decline is ivory. Despite a 1989 ban on ivory trade, poachers continue to kill elephants for their tusks.

Now China, the destination for most of that ivory, has announced it will shut down its domestic ivory market.

Wildlife experts had thought that the international ban on ivory trade would slow or even stop the killing of elephants for their tusks. It didn' fact the killing got worse. That's mostly because the ban didn't cover OLDER ivory, that is, ivory taken from elephants BEFORE the 1989 ban. So people are still killing elephants but passing off their ivory as old, and therefore legal to trade.

John Robinson, with the Wildlife Conservation Society, says efforts to stop the supply of ivory at the source, in Africa, have not been very successful. "Addressing the demand is absolutely essential if we are going to deal with the poaching issues," he says.

And the biggest source of demand for ivory has been China. "Almost all the ivory is for carving," says Robinson. "China has had a history of doing so. Whole tusks are carved into elaborately assembled pieces of one kind or another."

Now China has agreed to close down that legal trade by the end of 2017. Robinson says it's an announcement conservationists have been waiting for since 2015, when U.S. and Chinese officials started negotiating an end to China's trade. "Certainly closing down domestic ivory in China will have a dramatic impact," says Robinson. "The Chinese market is the largest ivory market in the world." Says conservation expert Elly Pepper at the Natural Resources Defense Council: "It's a game changer and could be the pivotal turning point that brings elephants back from the brink of extinction."

The Chinese government has laid out an extensive plan that includes putting ivory carvers to work on existing museum pieces or other projects. The government says it will also educate the public on the consequences of ivory trading for elephant populations.

The Obama administration already has shut down almost all trade in ivory in the U.S., and several states have their own bans.

Robinson says the Chinese decision may help convince other countries that trade in ivory, such as Vietnam, the United Kingdom and Japan, to do the same. your social media marketing partner


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+2 # DongiC 2017-01-03 10:34
The polar bears are on the way out because of global warming abd the eleohants are in trouble because of the demand for ivory. Human beings are responsible for both conditions.
-2 # 2017-01-03 11:12
The polar bear population is growing not waning and is currently at the largest number since 1960. Some particular groups have been in decline, but the remaining group growth outpaces the declines. In one conversation I had with a group of Greenlanders, they all thought that we Americans were crazy for even wanting to save polar bears since they consider them to be predators and food stealers in direct competition with native humans.

The story about the polar bear drowning by Charles Monnett was classic "fake news" and Monnett was subsequently transferred to other duties after the Inspector General uncovered his fraud.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
-2 # 2017-01-03 11:18
Chinese elites are likely banning ivory because they already own a lot of it and know that their ban will increase the value of their hoards.

Bans are precisely the way to kill off every elephant. When the locals can't earn money by selling ivory (presumably from elephants who die naturally), they will not protect elephants and may even participate in helping poachers since the elephants destroy their farm plots and they can earn some money by helping the poachers.

Bans cause the price of ivory to increase and thus incentivize more poachers and more locals into the trade.

The best solution for preserving the species (and other large game animal species) is to allow the locals to earn money from the sale of ivory. They will protect money-making animals and will ensure that populations are kept as healthy and numerous as possible in order to maximize future earnings.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
+1 # bardphile 2017-01-03 11:41
I'm not so sure about this, Lee. Under your scenario, wouldn't individual "locals" still be tempted to over-"harvest" elephants? What evidence is there that they'd be more able to police themselves than Wall St. was back in '08?

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