China has suspended the import of carved ivory products from Africa for one year, an encouraging step that we hope will lead to stronger actions to end the illegal ivory trade. 100,000 elephants were killed for their tusks over just three years between 2010 and 2012, and at least 33,000 elephants are poached each year. Demand for ivory is the major driver of elephant poaching taking place in Africa, and China is the world’s largest ivory importer. Elephant Crisis Fund partners, including the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the Natural Resources Defense Council and WildAid have all been doing important work on ivory demand in China.
According to an official quoted by Chinese media, the temporary suspension will give the country’s State Forestry Administration time to evaluate its effectiveness and to consider potentially taking additional, more effective future measures. The current ban covers only imports, while the country’s domestic ivory trade is a major factor in elephant poaching. We hope that China will continue to build on this action and take stronger measures to fight the ivory trade.