China Remains the World’s Largest Importer of Smuggled Ivory

African Elephants with their valuable ivory. (Screenshot/ YouTube)
African Elephants with their valuable ivory. (Screenshot/ YouTube)

China has introduced a 1-year ban on imported ivory. The State Forestry Administration on their official site said they would not handle any import requests. They have been under heavy criticism that their citizens have a huge appetite for ivory, and that has fueled poaching, which threatens the existence of African elephants.

Elephants in Africa Image: Youtube Screenshot

An African elephant with its massive ivory tusks. (Screenshot/YouTube)

An unnamed forestry official told the state-run Legal Evening News “that authorities hope the ban would be a concrete step to reduce the demand for African tusks and to protect wild elephants. The official said the temporary ban would allow authorities to evaluate its effect on elephant protection before they can take further, more effective steps.”

The Chinese courts have stepped up prosecution of the illegal ivory trade, and six tons of illegal ivory was destroyed last year in Dongguan. Although Beijing has campaigned against the illegal ivory trade, China still remains the world’s largest importer of smuggled tusks.

Watch this news report from Aljazeera about African ivory smuggled on China visit

Chinese citizens have been warned by its government not to bring back any ivory from overseas, but inadequate awareness campaigns do not explain that the only way to get the tusks is to kill the elephant; therefore, many Chinese do not know this.

Engraved Ivory In China Image: Youtube Screenshot

Carved ivory from China. (Screenshot/YouTube)

In 2008 China acquired a stockpile of legal ivory. Since then the demand for it has risen among the rich who see it as a status symbol, because of this it has fuelled a strong black market. Wildlife protection advocates have welcomed the move but have said that it’s not addressing the root issue in China, and that is the fact that they still have a stockpile of legal ivory that it provides for a legitimate domestic market.

“This domestic ivory market confuses consumers, removes stigma about ivory consumption, provides cover for criminals to smuggle ivory, hinders law enforcement and stimulates poaching of elephants,” said Grace Ge Gabriel, the Asia regional director for International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Engraved Ivory In China Image: Youtube Screenshot

Ornately carved ivory from China. (Screenshot/YouTube)

A London-based Environmental Investigation Agency, which issued a scathing report, suggested that Chinese government officials were involved in the illegal poaching of ivory in Africa, and called the announcement “window dressing.”

Watch this video “God’s Ivory” a reportage by Getty Images

“It is unfortunate that the Chinese authorities have not announced a much needed policy change by banning all domestic trade in ivory; this is the policy change that could actually make a difference for elephants in Africa,” said Shruti Suresh, wildlife campaigner for the agency.

Sir David Attenborough and a group of MPs, broadcasters, and conservationists called on Chinese president Xi Jinping to end the ivory trade to protect African elephants.

It’s hard to believe that there are still people who don’t seem to care about animal conservation, allowing greed to have the upper hand.

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