Chinese trading ban sees huge decrease in endangered species auction sales
It is not often that we can talk about the impact of our campaign to reduce the trade of endangered species in quantifiable terms.
Today, however, I learned that the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) campaign to remove tiger bone, rhino horn, and elephant ivory from auction blocks in China had made a huge dent on the trade volume in 2012.
To be exact, a $322 million USD dent.
It represents a 30-40% reduction in sales volume from a year ago. The drastic decrease is attributed to ivory, rhino horn and tiger bone being banned, as these are often high-ticket items.
Following a timely tip off from IFAW in December 2011, Chinese wildlife authorities stopped the sale of hundreds of bottles of tiger bone wine and rhino horn carvings at a high-profile auction in Beijing.
The State Council banned all trade in tiger bone and rhino horn products in 1993.
IFAW commended the government for taking decisive action to prevent this illegal trade. Any sale of tiger bone products is in blatant violation of both international and domestic trade bans. It can only stimulate the demand for tiger products and the poaching of wild tigers.
China’s State Forestry Administration followed up the blocked auction with an emergency notice urging all Chinese auction houses to adhere to wildlife laws and regulations.
The notice highlighted China’s trade ban on tiger bone and rhino horn, emphasizing that the ban applies to all auctions of parts and products from endangered species, such as tigers, rhinos and elephants.
The ban had an immediate impact. We saw at the beginning of 2012 that many endangered species auctions were cancelled.
An article in the auction industry newsletter (in Chinese) specifically gave IFAW credit for influencing the government to issue a ban on rhino horn, elephant ivory and tiger bone wine.
China Association of Auctioneers, an industry trade group, now says 2012 sales were sharply down by 30 to 40 percent over the previous year. The ban on rhinoceros horn and ivory contributed to the decrease the group said.
An association spokesman said that the ban on rhino horn and ivory and tighter controls over the importation of artworks knocked 2 billion yuan (US$322.4 million) off overall revenues.
“The total turnover of China's antique and art auctions in 2012 halved year-on-year to 27.9 billion yuan (US$4.5 billion), the first fall since the global financial crisis in 2008.”
The association said the overall decline was mainly caused by a drop in sales of items valued at more than 1 million yuan ($US161,093).