Here’s some fantastic news: China is making good on its promise to end its ivory trade by the end of 2017! The government is forcing a dozen Chinese ivory carving factories and 45 ivory retail shops to shutter their operations this week. These 67 establishments represent more than a third of the country’s ivory businesses, and the remainder are planned to close before 2018.
And here’s even more great news: A study from conservation group Save the Elephants found that wholesale ivory prices in the country are down by close to 65 percent since early 2014 when a kilogram averaged $2,100. In February of this year, the average price in China was $730. Representatives from Save the Elephants say they believe those prices will continue to drop, thanks in part to this drive by the Chinese government to end its country’s trade. Other contributing factors the conservation group credits include an increase in public awareness, an economic slowdown in the country, and an official anti-corruption campaign.
China is the biggest player in the world’s illegal ivory trade, so this gives us plenty for which to celebrate. Still, the fight to save African elephants from extinction through the brutality of poaching is unfortunately far from over. “Hong Kong and the UK still have not passed their proposed ivory bans, and Japan’s market remains wide open,” according to WildAid. Even here in the U.S., the second largest market in the world where a “near-total ban on commercial trade in African elephant ivory” was implemented in 2016, certain ivory sales and imports are still allowed.
As a result, these gentle giants continue to be savagely massacred for their tusks at a rate of around 100 elephants each and every day – or around one every 15 minutes. Only 400,000 to 500,000 African elephants are estimated to remain today, compared to a population of around 1.2 million in the early 1980s. These losses have already had a significant impact on the social and environmental health of the native regions in which this species once thrived.
Our best hope to end these killings and save African elephants from extinction is to continue driving down demand for ivory. You can do so by sharing this information, urging consumers worldwide to avoid purchasing ivory trinkets or supporting this awful trade, and pressuring leaders in countries where trade in ivory is still allowed to implement full bans! When the buying stops, so can the killing.
Image source: michael sheehan/Shutterstock