The world’s most important wildlife trade conference will convene in South Africa in September, when representatives from 183 Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) will gather to discuss many critical wildlife issues, including a proposal to end all commercial domestic ivory markets.
The poaching of African elephants and the illegal trade in their ivory is one of the highest profile and destructive forms of wildlife crime in recent years, not only decimating elephant populations but also affecting the safety and security of citizens in affected countries.
WWF is greatly encouraged by the commitment announced by President Xi Jinping and President Barack Obama to impose a near complete ban on ivory imports and trade ban in China and the US. Significant progress has been achieved since then. New federal regulations were enacted in the US on 6 July that almost completely prohibit the domestic ivory trade. The Chinese State Forestry Administration has temporarily suspended ivory carving imports from African countries including trophy hunting and pre-CITES ivory import. We deeply appreciate bilateral action and leadership from China and the US.
A rapid and effective ivory ban in China could be a very important step to reducing illegal trade in ivory and consequently the scourge of poaching on elephants in Africa. It is our sincere hope that this domestic ivory trade ban could be implemented as rapidly and effectively as possible. It is our considered view that we should aim to effectively implement this ban within two years. This timeline will send a very strong signal to the international community on the determination and commitment of the Chinese Government in saving African elephants. A longer timeline will result in further impacts that on African elephants that could be irreversible for some vulnerable populations.
WWF is fully committed to supporting the Chinese government’s implementation of a ban on ivory trade. We have already scaled up public engagement efforts to support the incoming ban. We stand ready to provide assistance to the ban enforcement in China and to international communication whenever necessary taking advantage of our networks worldwide.
Lo Sze Ping