China has taken massive leaps in helping the conservation of elephants by initiating a complete ban in 2017 of ivory trade.
The country has been one of the largest consumers of the luxury material made from tusks and teeth (predominately from elephants), and the high demand product has been ethically questioned for some time. The named “white gold” has today seen a rise in prices, and an increase in poaching, both which have left a significant gap in the elephant population.
The World Wildlife Fund estimated that 20 000 elephants are killed each year for the purpose of ivory production. African Elephants are now listed as threatened under the American Endangered Species Act, due to the trend in poaching for their tusks. Their decrease in population has long being argued by some as due to habitat loss, but with such a high demand for ivory, the connection has been made clear that poaching is massively contributing to it. China’s decision to remove their ivory trade will help these elephants return to a safe and comfortable state, and stop the worrying decline in their population.
The process of removing the ivory trade completely in China will, first, start with closing around half of the ivory pressing firms in the country, as well as half of the ivory retail shops by the end of March this year. After this, China will then commit to phasing out processors and traders by the end of the year.
China has a rich history in ivory carving, tracing back to the Ming and Qing Dynasties, meaning the decision would result in completely reversing the nation’s attitude towards the product, as well as the necessity to find an alternative luxury product for buyers and sellers.
The concern for specialists losing jobs in the trade will also be considered. Current ivory carvers will be assisted in transitioning their work into carving with other mediums, and master carvers will have the opportunity to gain work in the repair and restoration of culturally and artistically significant ivory pieces in museums, etc.
In a world that seems to thrive in the destruction of the land, flora and fauna, the step is a ready welcome for activists and conservationists. While the ivory trade will still need a few months to transition, it speaks good news for the future of our planet, and the necessity to conserve and protect all wildlife we still have.