China has shut down 67, or one third its ivory factories and retail stores, and will shut down the remaining 105 by the end of the year, according to the State Forestry Administration on Friday.
To further the protection of wild elephants, the administration said that the unsold and unprocessed ivory items can be transported to the remaining 105 factories and stores, but December 31 will be the last day of operations for the sale of ivory.
“The rest of the raw materials will be used in non-commercial activities, for example, restorations of antiques in museums,” said Zhang Dehui, Chief of Wildlife Conservation Division under the State Forestry Administration.
China’s ivory ban has led to a sagging illegal ivory market in recent years.
“China has been spearheading the effort to close its ivory market. This will help reduce the pursuit for profit in ivory and quash its consumption demand. Meanwhile, it will encourage other developing and developed countries to further clamp down on their relevant domestic ivory markets in a bid to save the wild elephant population,” said said Wang Aimin, Country Program Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society China Program.
China used to account for about 70 percent of the global ivory market, but it wants to honor its commitment to the protection of elephants.
“There are many other countries that still allow ivory processing and sales for commercial purposes. And commercial hunting of African elephants is not prohibited in some countries. We hope that these countries will evaluate their current policies on elephant protection and take further action,” said Zhang.
The State Forestry Administration said China has provided 10 million dollars to African countries for the protection of elephants and other wildlife. And more training programs will be launched by China for African countries in law enforcement to protect the threatened species this year.