BEIJING: China’s State Forestry Administration announced on its Weibo account that from today, the very last day of 2017, any transaction involving ivory, including bringing ivory from abroad into China, will be illegal. It did so using a video to remind people that China has now banned domestic ivory processing and trade.
As a part of China’s efforts to reduce ivory demand and help end the global poaching crisis, the country announced in late 2016 that it would cease taking part in ivory processing and sales by March 31, 2017, and to cease all ivory processing and sales by December 31, 2017.
The poaching and smuggling of wild animals has formed a trade chain worth 20 billion US dollars, ranking fourth among illegal trade behind drug, counterfeiting and human trafficking, with a majority of the profits in the wild animal business being generated by smuggling ivory－which is so profitable that it is nicknamed “white gold”.
These huge profits make ivory a key source of funding for local armed groups, who in turn make ivory poaching difficult to stop.
Poachers kill between 20,000 and 30,000 African elephants each year for their tusks, primarily to satisfy the demand for ivory products in Asia, and according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), China is a key part of this trade.
The epidemic also threatens Asian elephants as well, but on a smaller scope.
Butchered on an industrial scale for their ivory tusks, elephant numbers in Africa have been slashed from 1.3 million to just 350,000 in the past four decades.
Africa has experienced a surge in ivory poaching – the worst since 1970s and 1980s – about a decade ago.
“The beast teeters on extinction,” Charlie Mayhew, founder of an elephant charity Tusk, told CGTN on Wednesday.