China's complete ban on ivory trade comes into effect

Poaching claims some 30,000 elephants each year.

The ban came into effect on New Year's Eve as per Chinese government promise.

The Chinese authority in December 2016 announced the ban on ivory processing and trade in line with Beijing's pledge to galvanize international action on wildlife crimes and committed to terminate ivory processing and trade by the end of 2017.

“From today… the buying and selling of elephant ivory and goods by any market, shop or vendor is against the law!” the forestry ministry said on its official account on Chinese social media platform Weibo.

Conservationist have hailed the ban terming it as a major step forward for what was once the world’s largest market for illegal ivory to rein in poaching.

“From now on, if a merchant tells you ‘this is a state-approved ivory dealer’… he is duping you and knowingly violating the law.”

The ministry added that the ban also applied to online sales and souvenirs purchased abroad.

According to the Xinhua state news agency, a partial ban had already resulted in an 80 percent decline in seizures of ivory entering China. Domestic prices for raw ivory are down 65 percent, it said.

Poaching claims some 30,000 elephants each year. But the situation is improving.

In Kenya, for example, 390 elephants were killed in 2013 - by 2017 that number fell to 46.

Former basketball star Yao Ming and other Chinese celebrities joined the Ivory Free campaign to push for a total ban.

By this March, Xinhua reported, 67 factories and shops involved in China’s ivory trade had closed.

The remaining 105 were expected to close Sunday.

African ivory is highly sought after in China, where it is seen as a status symbol and also used in medicinal practices though science has proved otherwise.

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