China Bans Ivory Trade

by - December 31, 2016

On the last day of 2016, we are seeing a positive headline; one of not so many this year. China is banning Ivory Trade.

Impressive Bull sporting impressive tusks; Pilanesberg National Park
In March 2017 trading and processing Ivory will be banned, apart from auctions of "legitimately" sourced antiques (this exception seems a little vague and largely undefined which could cause problems, but overall this is excellent news). China currently buys an estimated 70% of all Ivory, and so this ban will lead to a huge decrease in trade, and pressures other countries to follow suit. 

This decision is being described as "historic" and a "game-changer." I personally hope this ban is properly enforced, and does lead to dramatic change. Without a major decrease in Ivory trade, the future of African elephants is pretty bleak. 

However, banning any form of trade obviously brings with it the risk of the black market. I worry that this announcement will cause a dramatic spike in poaching until March, and following it the illegal trade will boom. However, being illegal to sell and process in China will make a difference, and if this announcement continues to meet great support, and links well with educating people on the importance of not trading Ivory to keep elephants alive, I think it will be great for elephants. 

BEFORE I get rained on by a host of comments asking why I support this, and yet fight for a legal trade in rhino horn, let me say this: you can successfully remove a rhino horn with no risk of harming a rhino. This does not work with elephants. Removing their tusks, or even broken tusks, lead to fatal infections. Therefore a legal trade by opening up the market to elephant owners simply won't work. Poachers shoot the animals too, but even without this, the animals would still die. Elephants and rhinos are not the same; Ivory and Keratin are not the same. 
Sadly in the world we live in, there is never a perfect answer. Poaching will not be wiped out 100% by this ban from China. Elephants will still be poached for their Ivory. What this ban can do, is decrease the trade; decrease the number of elephants killed per year; help the population. 

I welcome this change and good news. According to the WWF, there are roughly 415,000 African elephants left. These giants of Africa have been hit hard by an increase in poaching. I hope this ban is enforced well, and makes all attempts to squash the black market before it can even begin. Elephants are majestic, intelligent and beautiful animals. I hope 2017 is a good year for African elephants; they need it. 

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