China Issues One Year Ban on Import of African Ivory Trophies

China Issues One Year Ban on Import of African Ivory Trophies
Thursday, 15 October, 2015
Beijing, China

China has announced a one-year ban on the import of African elephant ivory acquired as hunting trophies. The embargo begins immediately and continues until 15 October 2016.

The decision is the latest in a series taken by China and aimed at ending illegal ivory trade.

Only three weeks ago, China and the United States announced a historic agreement to enact what were described “nearly complete bans on ivory imports and exports, including significant and timely restrictions on the import of ivory as hunting trophies” in their respective countries. Presidents Xi Jinping of China and Barack Obama of the United States promised to “take significant and timely steps to halt the domestic commercial trade of ivory.”

“This is another concrete step to fulfill President Xi’s pledge to ban ivory trade in China,” said Grade Ge Gabriel, Asia Regional Director of International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).   

Earlier, in February, China introduced a one year ban on imports of African ivory carvings acquired after the establishment, in 1975, of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES was established to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of species in the wild.

It is estimated that 35,000 elephants are killed every year - or one every 15 minutes - for the ivory trade.

As one of the world’s most lucrative criminal activities, valued at US$19-billion annually, illegal wildlife trade ranks among damaging and dangerous global crimes such as trafficking in drugs, people, oil and counterfeiting.

In an interview with Chinese news outlet, YICAI.com, an official from the State Forestry Administration of China said the new ban further demonstrates the importance attached to wildlife conservation by the his Government and was a proactive and determined action intended to end the poaching and trafficking of African elephant.

“The series of actions taken by China, including an ivory crush and ivory import ban, will support demand reduction efforts through stigmatising ivory consumption,” said the official.

Recently, a survey conducted by research agency Rapid Asia showed that the most convincing reason for Chinese consumers to stop ivory consumption was “making ivory trade illegal in all circumstances”(60 per cent) and a “strong recommendation from a government leader”(39 per cent).

“To truly stigmatize ivory trade, these timelines on ivory carving and trophy import bans should be removed.  Keeping the one-year time frame gives wildlife criminals hope that the ban will be lifted. Only by having clear and unequivocal laws banning ivory trade combined with vigorous enforcement and meaningful penalties can attach stigma to ivory trade, ultimately reduce demand. ” said Gabriel. 

The 2013 IFAW report, Criminal Nature: The Global Security Implications of the Illegal Wildlife Trade, documents the threat the illegal wildlife trade poses to elephants, rhinos and people.

To combat this deadly illegal trade, IFAW trains law enforcement officers – more than 2,600 to date -- in wildlife trafficking prevention in  source, transit and consumer countries throughout the world. The organization collaborates with INTERPOL’s Environmental Crime Programme, regional law enforcement bodies and national wildlife law enforcement agencies.

About IFAW

Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Photos are available at www.ifawimages.com

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