Conservationists warn China ivory ban just first step needed


Agence France-Presse

Date Published
Conservationists in Africa welcomed Friday a one-year ban by China on imports of ivory carvings, but warned far more needed to be done to stop the slaughter of elephants.
“It is hugely optimistic sign but much more action is still needed,” said Ian Douglas-Hamilton, who founded Kenya-based Save the Elephants.
The ban was a “significant step in the right direction, signalling a growing realisation in China of the role they play in the demand for ivory,” the zoologist said, calling for a total ivory ban.
China is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), but conservationists say it is the world’s largest consumer of illegal ivory, with skyrocketing demand leading to the slaughter of tens of thousands of African elephants each year.
Researchers last years said they had found soaring quantities of ivory being sold in rapidly growing numbers of shops in China, with over 100,000 elephants killed from 2010 to 2012, a joint report from the Save the Elephants and The Aspinall Foundation campaign groups read.
Organised crime syndicates and rebel militia increasingly use poaching to fund insurgencies, reaping the benefits of multi-billion-dollar demand.
“One year is not enough,” said Paula Kahumbu, who heads the Nairobi-based conservation organisation WildlifeDirect.
“China has been denying for a long time that the demand for ivory has been the cause of the killing of elephants,” Kahumbu told AFP.
“It’s a very strong signal to the consumers of ivory that a complete ban is coming. I believe that they will soon ban the importation of ivory completely, and even the domestic trade.”
Sammi Li, a spokeswoman for TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, welcomed the import ban as sending a message and “recognition by China of their role in the illegal ivory trade”.
But she told AFP: “The actual volume to be banned is rather small, so the ban is more symbolic than effective.”