China’s demand for ivory is responsible for the near extinction of the African Elephant. Though the government has made some progress stopping the legal trade, China’s ivory factories will all be shut down this Friday in an effort to stop the importing of ivory.
According to a new report, the price of ivory in China has more than halved since 2014 dropping from $2,100 a kilogram to $730 in February.
It’s estimated that over 20,000 elephants are killed each year to meet China’s ivory demand.
“This is a critical period for elephants, with the end of the legal ivory trade in China, the survival chances for elephants have distinctly improved. We must give credit to China for having done the right thing by closing the ivory trade. There is still a long way to go to end the excessive killing of elephants for ivory, but there is now greater hope for the species.” Says Ian Douglas-Hamilton president of Save the Elephants.
A slowed economy and a crackdown on corruption has turned a lot of Chinese business men from buying the ivory goods. “Findings from 2015 and 2016 in China have shown that the legal ivory trade especially has been severely diminished,” says Lucy Vigne from Save the Elephants.
Ivory’s prices have been cut in retail stalls, and displays have been taken down. Wildlife authorities and conservationists in Kenya rejoiced the drop in Chinese trade.
“Once they don’t have an appetite for ivory it will no longer be attractive to kill elephants. We are hopeful that China will meet this deadline (to ban the ivory trade) and we will see our elephant populations restored in the parks,” said Patrick Omondi, deputy director at the Kenya Wildlife Service.
National Geographic’s Bryan Christy was arrested recently during an investigation into the illegal ivory trade. Christy created a fake tusk embedded with a hidden GPS tracker, tracking it to the doorstep of Africa’s most notorious militias and terrorist groups in an effort to expose the cruelty and violence behind the illegal trade of elephant tusks (Read more about Warlords of Africa here).
Efforts like Christy’s, however dangerous bring to light the crisis facing the African Elephant and the impact illegal trade has on African communities.
However, with any luck, China’s ban on ivory will help conservationists repopulate the African Elephant, a species way too close to extinction.