China will close down its domestic ivory trade by the end of 2017, signalling an end to the world’s primary legal ivory market and a major boost to international efforts to tackle the elephant poaching crisis in Africa. The General Office of the State Council of China announced that China will “cease part of ivory processing and sales by 31 March 2017 and cease all ivory processing and sales by 31 December 2017”.

Lo Sze Ping, CEO of WWF-China said: “WWF applauds China’s decision to ban its domestic ivory trade so swiftly, underlining the government’s determination and strong leadership to reduce demand for ivory and help save Africa’s elephants.”

“Closing the world’s largest legal ivory market will deter people in China and beyond from buying ivory and make it harder for ivory traffickers to sell their illegal stocks.”

At the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) held in South Africa in October, the delegates adopted a resolution calling for all countries with a legal domestic market for ivory that is contributing to poaching or illegal trade to take measures to close their domestic ivory markets.

“Now that three of the world’s largest domestic ivory markets – China, Hong Kong SAR and the US – are being phased out, we hope that other countries will follow suit,” said Lo Sze Ping. “China and the US have shown how quickly markets can be addressed and the sooner the better for Africa’s elephants.”

Last October’s CITES meeting also provided an opportunity to enhance international efforts to end the poaching and ivory trafficking by strengthening the National Ivory Action Plan (NIAP) process, which was launched at the previous Conference of the Parties (CoP) in Bangkok in 2013 and is beginning to yield results. Along with 18 other Asian and African countries, China has had to develop and implement an ivory action plan as part of the global response to the current crisis.

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