What’s been called China’s game-changing decision to terminate its domestic ivory trade in 2017 — including closing at least one-third of its registered traders and processors by the first quarter of the year — has been applauded by wildlife activists, as well as some kids in the United States.
Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai has replied to about 20 letters from primary school students in California and Massachusetts who wrote to thank China for its latest move to ban its ivory trade, the embassy said on Wednesday.
Following regulations released on Dec 30 by the State Council, China is expected to shut down up to 15 ivory processing and 60 sales enterprises by March 31, and the rest by year’s end.
The regulations followed a temporary ban China slapped on all ivory imports for commercial purposes in March 2016.
There are 34 designated factories and 143 retail outlets in China that are permitted to legally operate in the processing and trade of ivory, according to statistics from the State Forestry Administration in Beijing.
In his letter, Cui thanked the US students for their enthusiasm for protecting wildlife, adding that in China, it is public consensus that wildlife should be protected and illegal trade should be stopped.
“In fact, China has been doing a lot more than just protecting the elephants,” Cui said. “If you have a chance to visit China, you will find a lot of endangered animals well protected in their natural habitat: giant panda (as you all know), snub-nosed monkey, Tibetan antelope, red-crowned crane, Manchurian tiger, to name just a few.”
Cui encouraged the young people of both countries to join hands and work together to create a better future for all life on Earth.
Around 20,000 elephants are killed illegally each year across Africa, primarily to feed the global demand for ivory, Xinhua reported in January.
In September 2015, leaders of China and the US committed to enacting nearly complete bans on ivory trade in each country. In early July, a near-total ban on commercial trade in African elephant ivory went into effect in the US.
Carter Roberts, president and CEO of the World Wildlife Fund, noted that “two of the largest ivory markets have taken action that will reverberate around the world”.
In particular, Roberts hailed China’s ban as a “game changer” for elephant conservation, according to WWF’s website.
On Feb 24, Kaddu Sebunya, president of the African Wildlife Foundation, wrote in an op-ed in China Daily’s Africa edition, “We must build on China’s ivory ban to help boost development without detrimental environmental impacts.”