China’s Government-sanctioned ivory-trade closed

As of December 31, China’s legal, government-sanctioned ivory trade will come to a close.

All of the country’s licensed ivory carving factories and retailers will be shuttered in accordance with a landmark 2015 announcement from Chinese President Xi Jinping and then U.S. President Barack Obama. The U.S.’s ivory ban went into effect in June 2016. China’s is also now in effect.

To stop the killing, you have to kill the demand, so this is a massive step towards that. By the end of this year, ivory prices for poachers and traffickers in Africa should drop significantly, dramatically reducing the incentive to poach. Nick Brandt and the BIG Life Foundation remark this as being “the Happiest New Year for the Elephant”

© Sultan Al Qasimi
We have many people to thank for hastening this action says Nick Brandt, – obviously the current Chinese president, Xi Jinping, but also organizations like Wild Aid who have worked tirelessly to influence and change public opinion in China, and also President Obama. 

Of course, there are other countries where ivory commerce remains legal – like Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and the Philippines, so international pressure now needs to turn to them with more force. But in the meantime, today, let us celebrate the wonderful potentially game-changing New Year’s Eve news out of China. 

On the ground in Kenya, this should hopefully make Big Life’s job in the Amboseli-Kilimanjaro ecosystem easier when it comes to protecting the large population of elephants there from poachers. But as we have been emphasizing in so much of our news this year, the much more daunting challenge facing us into the future is no longer poaching but human-elephant conflict, with far more elephants killed in the last two years by that than by poachers, whom the rangers teams were effectively holding at bay.