Chinese officials vow to halt ivory trade at Beijing crush

China State Forestry Administration (SFA) and General Administration of Customs (GAC) crushed 662 kg of confiscated ivoryIn Beijing, it hadn’t rained for days.

But a drizzle came down early in the morning— the day 662 kg of ivory were ceremoniously destroyed—as if mourning the death of tens of thousands of elephants killed for the ivory trade.

Whole tusks, carvings, boxes of trinkets and jewelry, all confiscated from illegal trade in 2014, were piled up next to a crushing machine at a government wildlife center on the outskirt of the city. 

I was in a sobering mood, until I heard a specific sentence in the speech by Minister Zhao of the State Forestry Administration.

Pledging to offer no hideout for illegal wildlife trade in China, the Minister offered 10 major measures.

Within those measures, he pledged to “eventually halt the processing and trade of elephant ivory for commercial purposes.”

This is THE outcome IFAW been working towards for the last decade!

Our ivory market investigations have long shown that the legal trade in China provides criminals with ample opportunities to launder ivory from poached elephants.

Allowing legal commercial ivory trade in China has removed any stigma attached with ivory consumption and confused consumers. Many of them take market availability for legality.

The legal ivory trade has stimulated consumer desire to covet ivory carvings for decorating, collecting, speculating and gift-giving.

The traditional appreciation for the intricate carving skills has been replaced by the insane desire to covet ivory just for its material.

As a result China’s demand for ivory is blamed by the international community as the ultimate culprit for the escalation of elephant poaching.

The Chinese government is slowly making impressive strides to stop the demand. It would help, as the Chinese public, which supports government making ivory trade illegal in all circumstances, will ultimately curb their demand for ivory if it were made illegal by the government.

By having strong and clear laws banning ivory trade combined with vigorous enforcement and meaningful penalties, we can again attach a stigma to ivory consumption and help reduce consumer demand. 

When the crushing machine started, the clouds disappeared and the sun came out.

Looking at the dust from the crushed ivory blowing in the wind, I quietly prayed that the policy banning commercial ivory trade will be implemented soon.

There isn’t much time for elephants.


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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Dr. Elsayed Ahmed Mohamed, Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
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Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
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Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
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Pauline Verheij, Program Manager, Wildlife Crime
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Rikkert Reijnen, Program Director, Wildlife Crime
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Country Representative, Germany
Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
Director, EU Office
Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy