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China is to impose a ban on ivory trade this year in a move being called a 'game-changer' for the African elephant.
The ban on ivory trading and processing is expected to be put into action by late March 2017. Conservationists hope the outlawing will influence Hong Kong and Britain to cancel their own ties.
Aili King, the director of Wildlife Conservation Society Asia, said: "This is great news that will shut down the world's largest market for elephant ivory.
"This is a game-changer for Africa's elephants. We call on all other countries with legal domestic ivory markets to follow China's lead and close their markets as well."
Chief executive for the WWF, Lo Sze Ping, said: "Closing the world's largest legal ivory market will deter people in China and beyond from buying ivory, and make it harder for ivory traffickers to sell their illegal stocks."
Professor Stuart Bearhop of the University of Exeter, spoke to The Independent. He said the proposal 'will make a difference and it is hugely encouraging for elephant populations and conservation in general'.
He added: "The increase in elephant poaching has almost certainly been driven by increasing affluence in China and other parts of Southeast Asia.
"I think ivory will never become worthless, there will doubtless still be a large black market for it within China. For example, while some east African countries have been very vocal about clamping down on poaching, the illegal trade flourishes in other countries in Southeast Asia where ivory is banned.
"The likelihood is that demand for ivory will go down and this should reduce the extent of elephant poaching. But these are slow reproducing and long-lived animals, and so it will be a number of years before we see any signs of recovery."
Source: The Independent
Featured image credit: PA
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