Just days after the US published new regulations imposing an almost complete ban on its domestic elephant ivory market, China has announced that it will issue a timetable before the end of this year to close down its own domestic ivory trade.
The moves by the US and China follow the historic joint commitment by Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Barack Obama last September to take ‘timely and significant’ steps to end their domestic ivory markets.
“WWF applauds China’s commitment to ending its domestic ivory trade and its contribution to the global fight against the illegal ivory trade and Africa’s elephant poaching crisis,” said Lo Sze Ping, CEO of WWF-China. “WWF stands ready to provide every assistance with the timetable to ensure the effective phasing out of the domestic market in China.”
The new US regulations will come into force on 6 July and will create a near-total ivory ban, with minor exceptions; the rules will shift the burden to the sellers in these cases to prove that a piece of ivory is legal — a significant advancement in enforcement efforts.
“The new regulations will make it much harder for criminals to use the United States as a staging ground for illegal ivory trade,” said Ginette Hemley, Senior Vice President of Wildlife Conservation at WWF-US. “They also send a strong signal to the international community that the US is committed to doing its part to save elephants in the wild.”
Around 30,000 elephants are killed in Africa each year, while poaching remains a threat to elephant populations across Asia as well.
“It is critical that China and the US are showing such leadership because wildlife crime is a global crisis and only a global response can tackle it,” said Sze Ping. “Countries around the world have signed up to fight wildlife crime. It is time for them to follow the US and China and turn their commitments into action at home.”