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Pepper writes: "In what may be the biggest sign of hope for elephants since the current poaching crisis began, the Chinese government, today, announced a one-year timeline for its promised domestic ivory ban."

African elephants. (photo: National Geographic)
African elephants. (photo: National Geographic)

Game Changer for Elephants: China to Ban Ivory Trade by End of 2017

By Elly Pepper, NRDC

30 December 16


n what may be the biggest sign of hope for elephants since the current poaching crisis began, the Chinese government, today, announced a one-year timeline for its promised domestic ivory ban. According to the notice, China will begin phasing out registered legal ivory processors and traders by March 31, 2017 and shut down its legal commercial ivory trade completely by December 31, 2017.

Today’s announcement comes as a result of the Chinese government’s promise to end its ivory market in early 2015 and commitment to deliver a timeline for its ivory ban by the end of the year at the 2016 U.S.-China Strategic and Economic (S&ED).

Demand for elephant ivory has skyrocketed in recent years, spurring poaching levels that are driving elephants towards extinction. And ending the legal ivory trade in China—the world’s largest consumer of elephant ivory—is critical to saving the species. Indeed, as we’ve seen in the U.S., legal ivory markets only perpetuate the illegal market.

According to today’s announcement, after the market closes, the Chinese Ministry of Culture will help transition ivory sector employees  to other livelihoods. For example, famous “master carvers” will be encouraged to work in museums and other entities to repair and maintain ivory works of significant artistic and cultural value. The Chinese government will also strengthen the management of legally-possessed ivory products. For example, ivory products will only be displayed in museums and art galleries for non-commercial purposes or exhibition. China will still allow ivory to be gifted and inherited. Finally, China’s Forestry Department and Police, Customs, and Market Control Department will ramp up enforcement and education to prevent illegal processing, selling, and transporting of ivory. This will involve market investigations and inspections and shutting down both physical and online illegal ivory-trading channels. It will also entail educating the public about the importance of rejecting ivory and ivory products.

Now, it’s crucial other countries with domestic ivory markets, including the UK, follow China's lead and shut them down. Even the U.S., which has largely closed its ivory market by banning the ivory trade at the federal level and in many states (e.g., HI, NY, OR, WA, NJ), can do more in the way of enforcement, while also helping other countries follow suit. As recognized in resolutions agreed to by many countries and leading conservation experts at the IUCN World Conservation Congress and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), domestic ivory bans are critical to stopping the poaching of elephants. And while China is one piece of the puzzle, all countries must work together to end the global ivory trade if we hope to bring elephants back from the brink. your social media marketing partner


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+34 # Activista 2016-12-30 14:53
China to Ban Ivory Trade by End of 2017? Think there will be not many elephants left - make it criminal right now.
+29 # CL38 2016-12-30 15:12
My thought exactly. Why hold off till end of '17 to prevent more elephants from being senselessly killed in the meantime??
+9 # Activista 2016-12-30 20:26
And supply demand economics will make ivory expensive - in 2017 the killing of elephants could accelerate.
0 # Activista 2016-12-30 20:26
And supply demand economics will make ivory expensive - in 2017 the killing of elephants could accelerate.
+2 # LionMousePudding 2016-12-30 22:46
Jobs. The many people involved in the legal trade have jobs and live off of them.

At least their government is both setting a deadline; and retraining-- in an intelligent way!!

If you don't like it, first look in our backyards to see the decades-long refusal to do anything about coal because coal miners need jobs (one of the most dangerous kind there are). Groton has lobbied to make more submarines because, jobs. Tobacco was not to be regulated because, jobs.

The fact is, everything profitable is someone's job, however awful! and this will always be a reason given against every regulation proposed.

Now dors the Chinese response still look bad?
+3 # CL38 2016-12-31 13:14
Of course it does. the argument about doing away with jobs in the coal or any other business--as you said--is ALWAYS used to maintain the status quo and avoid real change, retraining, health issues, etc.
0 # dipierro4 2016-12-31 21:39
"...Now does the Chinese response still look bad?.."

I wish it were better, but I am happy to see any response in the right direction. I am sure the Chinese govt faced resistance within China. Not to mention: ANY move that reduces commercial profits, puts a nation at a survival disadvantage vis-a-vis its adversaries, such as the nation led by the China-hostile Mr. Trump.
+2 # jackdresser 2016-12-31 02:06
Greatly increased protection will obviously be needed, and if sanctions will soon be imposed on the ivory trade it could scare Chinese buyers away.
+16 # John of Milpitas 2016-12-30 19:01
How about Rhino horns?
-7 # 2016-12-30 21:04
If rhino horn trade was free, game preserve owners would shave the horn (which is practical and does not harm the rhino) and use the profits to improve protection of rhinos. As it stands now, no one has any incentive to preserve rhinos and everyone has an incentive to kill them -- farmers to prevent crop damage and poachers to get the high profits available on the black market.

If one wants to save a species, allow the species to be used legally for something and people will find it profitable to save the species. In progressive ignorance and hatred of profits, your bans are doing more damage to the species that you claim to want to save.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
0 # dipierro4 2016-12-31 21:52
"...In progressive ignorance and hatred of profits, your bans are doing more damage..."

Inason makes clear his/(her?) attitude with that sarcastic comment, and I don't agree with that attitude.

However, I do agree that it's possible that his proposed solution may have positive results in a particular case, depending on all the circumstances. Similar to (although not identical with!) the suggestion that legalizing drugs may reduce some of the evils that result from the War on Drugs.

Not that I am convinced, in this case. My impression is that worldwide bans on animal products, when universally accepted, tend to improve matters rather than the opposite. Do we have enough evidence to know with any confidence? What the evidence actually say?
+18 # 2016-12-30 19:23
Ivory Trade should be a crime.
-15 # 2016-12-30 20:58
This move dooms elephants. When the ban goes into effect, the price of ivory knick-knacks will soar and poachers will kill every elephant on earth.

Meantime, communist party apparatchiks who already hold ivory will grow even more wealthy. Why else do you think these party bosses are going to ban it? Wake up and remove the bans and let the local people sell ivory so that they have an incentive to protect and preserve the species.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
+3 # CL38 2016-12-31 13:18
same old arguments are always used to maintain the corruption and destruction. animals are treated as insignificant, despite our loss of 1/2 the animal species since the 70's.

this should be a punishable crime with extensive time in prison.
+9 # margpark 2016-12-30 21:41
What is it with Ivory? I know there are people who want ivory for folk medicine and maybe there are still some who make art from ivory.

Still with elephants dwindling in the wild they should be protected from death. As an animal, I quite like elephants. They love each other and take care of each other.
-3 # Valerie 2016-12-31 09:02
Hi! The best night  is waiting for you

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