China Pledges to End Its Ivory Trade-But Is It Enough?
China Pledges to End Its Ivory Trade - But Is It Enough?
China's central government has declared that it will end its ivory trade, beginning with closing down legal carving factories and retailers by March 2017, with plans to shut down the rest of the domestic ivory market by the end of the year. Though Beijing has yet to release information on what it will do with massive stockpiles of legal, and illegal, ivory, this pledge from China is the news that we have all been waiting for, and fighting for, in our united efforts to end the savage slaughter of elephants for the ivory trade.
China is the world's largest consumer of ivory products, and now, one year after President Obama and China's President Xi Jinping’s joint agreement that the two nations would take significant and timely steps to halt the trade of ivory, action is being taken where it is needed the most, in China.
The ivory carving of China is a centuries old practice, and a part of its national cultural heritage and identity. This pledge marks a truly unprecedented shift in China's cultural values, and is also a testament to the power of the worldwide activism that demanded action for elephants. Hong Kong, the world's largest legal retail ivory market, and a key transit port for illegal ivory smuggled from Africa to Asia, has pledged to end its trade by 2021- though there will likely be pressure to end it sooner, as well as the neighboring markets of Vietnam, Myanmar, and the Philippines.
With the U.S. enacting a near total ban on ivory in June of 2016, and China now declaring its commitment to ending their ivory trade, elephants may have a fighting chance of survival. Keep in mind that decimated elephant populations are deeply traumatized by the violence they have witnessed- the brutal, bloody murders of their entire families. This fracturing of family units and herds, and the loss of matriarchal leadership will have a profound impact for generations of elephants to come. Hopefully, there may well be generations to come, if China can enforce its pledge, and end their legal and illegal, ivory trade.
We hope that China's game changing commitment to caring about elephants grows, in that it ceases importing African elephants for its growing number of safari parks and zoos. In the meantime, we celebrate, with cautious optimism, China's vital commitment to ending their ivory trade.