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Good news everybody: as of today - 31 December 2017 - China has shut down its legal, government-sanctioned ivory trading.
As a result, the country's 172 licensed ivory-carving factories and shops selling ivory will be closed. Plans to bring in such a ban were announced back in 2015, by President Xi Jinping and the former US President Barack Obama, the National Geographic reports.
At the time, both parties said their respective countries had agreed to a 'near complete' ivory ban, which would mean that buying or selling ivory would be banned in all but a few circumstances - such as antique items.
The US introduced its ivory ban all the way back in June 2016, and China's begins today.
#NowOfficial It's 31 December in China. The historic #IvoryBan in China has now entered into force! All commercial sales & processing of #elephant #ivory are now illegal in China.#EndPoaching #EndWildlifeTrafficking #CITES #CoP17 pic.twitter.com/OU6zDihDBj
- CITES (@CITES) December 30, 2017
Wildlife activists have labelled the move an important step in reducing the number of elephants killed each year. Wildlife groups estimate that around 30,000 elephants are killed by poachers in Africa every year - campaigners are hopeful that the ban in China will greatly reduce this number, as the country is widely believed to be the biggest consumer of ivory.
Peter Knights, chief executive of the group WildAid told Reuters the ban is 'the single greatest step toward reducing elephant poaching'.
Congratulations to China on Banning #Ivory https://t.co/gmtnzIM57l pic.twitter.com/cm1HbCGmhN
- WildAid (@WildAid) December 28, 2017
The ban has already caused an 80 percent decline in seizures of illegal ivory entering China, as well as a 65 percent drop in prices of raw ivory, according to WildAid.
A spokesperson from WildAid said: "We can start 2018 hopeful that elephants will be safer now China has banned commercial ivory sales."
Senior vice president of the World Wildlife Fund and board member of wildlife trade monitoring organisation TRAFFIC Ginette Hemley said: "By closing its ivory markets, China is showing its commitment to end its role in the poaching epidemic plaguing Africa's elephants.
"It is critical that efforts to enact the ivory trade ban are accompanied by efforts to change consumer behaviour in order to reduce demand."
Source: National Geographic
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