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Death of the World's Biggest Ivory Market: China Officially Starts Mission to Save the Elephants

Apr 03, 2017 12:51 PM EDT

A few days ago, China officially released a notice to close the first of its state-licensed ivory carving factories and retailers. The decision is part of the country's "orderly process" to end the widespread poaching of elephants in Africa by the end of 2017 and protect their remaining population.

The notice issued by the General Office of the State Council states they are shutting down 67 of its licensed ivory traders by the end of the year and all commercial sales of elephant ivory, both physical and online, will be forbidden by the end of March.

"China's steps to move from stated intentions to end the commercial sale of ivory to concrete actions mark an exciting new chapter in the fight to preserve elephants in the wild," Catherine Novelli, Under Secretary of State under former president Barack Obama told National Geographic.

Seventy percent of all ivory trade take place in China -- the largest share in the world. The demand is so high that it can fetch as much as $2,400 per pound, reported Gizmodo.

Given that China is the country with the biggest demand for ivory products, its bold decision to end the ivory sales is a game changer in the fight to protect the population of the few remaining elephants.

As mentioned by Futurism, ivory trade has been banned since the late 1980s. However, due to corrupt and maligned officials, illegal ivory trade continue to proliferate.

The report cited that in 2011, poaching was responsible for 75 percent of all elephant deaths. And in 2015, an estimated 20,000 elephants fell in the hands of poachers -- a number that is larger than the amount of elephants born that year. Over the past seven years, the population of elephants has shrunk by a third, Great Elephant Census noted; that is almost 400,000 dead elephants.

In relation China's aggressive proclamation on ivory trade ban, the average wholesale price of tusks in China had fallen to $1,100 by late 2015, before reaching $730 in February 2017, Save The Elephants shared. Further decline is expected as the end of the year approaches.

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