Jumbo Problem: China Bans Ivory Trade but India Records Spike


Manon Verchot, The Quint

Date Published

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The plummeting elephant population worldwide could catch a break now that China has announced a ban on ivory trade by the end of 2017.

The move is expected to affect 34 processing enterprises and 143 designated trading venues, and could have major implications for Africa’s elephants. An estimated 20,000 African elephants were killed for the trade last year alone. The continent is now home to an estimated 4,15,000 elephants.

But here in India, elephants aren’t so lucky.

Though the ivory trade is illegal in India, the market has seen a recent resurgence. In the last three years, 85 elephants were killed by poachers, according to Environment Minister Anil Madav Dave.

In 2015, 487 kilograms of ivory worth around Rs 12 crore was seized in Delhi. At least four large raids were made in 2016, according to officials from the Ministry of Forests and Environment.

Most ivory trade cases were reported in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Karnataka and Uttarakhand.

Incentives to deter the trade haven’t been very successful either. Those caught killing elephants or in possession of ivory face three years in prison and a Rs 50,000 fine. But compared to how much traffickers can earn by selling ivory, the fine is quite low. One kilo of ivory, without carving, fetches a price of Rs 15,000 to 50,000 in India, while in China, one kilo can fetch up to Rs 75,000.

If the trade continues, it won’t be long before elephants completely disappear. Only 30,000 Asian elephants are left in India. Time to save the jumbos is running out.