China will publish a timetable by the end of the year to halt its domestic commercial trade in ivory, a senior official said on June 6.
Yan Xun, deputy director-general of department of wildlife conservation and nature reserve management of the State Forestry Administration, said the timetable will follow the combined efforts of various government bodies to assess the process and impact of a ban.
“At the same time, we will also evaluate the impact of bans on imported ivory and ivory products that have been in place since February 2015,” Yan said.
During President Xi Jinping’s visit to the United States last September, the two countries made a joint commitment to take “significant and timely steps” to halt the domestic commercial trade of ivory.
On June 6, the Obama administration announced a near-total ban on the interstate trading of ivory.
The final revision of a section of the US Endangered Species Act dealing with African elephants — which will take effect on July 6 — includes exceptions for items containing minimal amounts of ivory and documented antiques.
Yan said China applauded the US ivory ban and would like to hear more about the implementation.
“China also hopes the US will further reduce or ban the trophy hunting of elephants, as well as reduce commercial activities such as auctions of ivory and ivory products, which push prices up and trigger more elephant poaching,” Yan said.
Cristian Samper, president and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society and a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Illegal Wildlife Trafficking in the US, said China’s announcement to issue a timetable has sent a message, and ivory markets are shutting down.
“President Xi and President Obama, working with other governments and conservation organizations, are lining up the world behind saving Africa’s and Asia’s elephants,” Samper said. “As China, the United States and several African elephant range states unite to stop the killing, stop the demand and stop the trafficking, elephants now have a fighting chance against the ivory traffickers and criminal networks driving the poaching.”
According to the WCS, between 2010 and 2012, 100,000 elephants were illegally killed for their ivory across the African continent — an average of 91 elephants per day, or nearly one every 15 minutes.
Between 2002 and 2013, central Africa’s forest elephant population declined by two-thirds, and heavy poaching continues. At that rate, forest elephants could be extinct in the wild within a decade.