If elephants could trumpet for joy, there would have been a resounding crescendo on Dec. 30 when China announced that it will close its domestic commercial elephant ivory market this year.In 2015, Presidents Xi Jinping and Obama stood together and announced their intention to close their respective ivory markets. The United States implemented a near total ban last June. Now China has set out its timeline, committing to closure of its market by the end of 2017.
The Chinese ban is sweeping. International commercial trade between countries is already prohibited, and now China’s decision to cease domestic commercial ivory sales adds much needed teeth to that ban. Meanwhile, ivory carving groups will be encouraged to change their business, while ivory carving masters will be encouraged to restore cultural relics. Additionally, law enforcement efforts to stop the illegal trade will be enhanced along with public education on the ecological damage of purchasing ivory.
Conservationists have called the Chinese ban a game changer, which it is, with ivory traffickers now staring at a giant “out of business” sign by their largest customer.
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