Doors to world’s largest legal ivory market officially close | WWF

Doors to world’s largest legal ivory market officially close

Posted on 27 December 2017
Ivory trade
© Marsden Momanyi
On January 1, 2018, it will be illegal to buy any ivory in China. This has been hailed as a ‘game-changer’ for elephants by many conservation organizations. December 31 marks the deadline for China’s commitment to close its legal domestic ivory market. All licensed ivory factories and outlets are expected to have ceased trading across the country.
An average of 55 elephants are being killed every day by poachers to fuel the demand for ivory – largely from China and neighboring countries.  China’s actions, more than those of any other country, can reverse the trend of elephant poaching and illegal ivory trafficking and have a significant impact on the future survival of African elephants.
Recent TRAFFIC and WWF surveys found that the ban has widespread support from a strong majority of consumers surveyed and that it is likely to substantially reduce ivory purchases in
It has been a good year in the fight to end the global ivory trade. Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and the UK have taken steps to strengthen ivory trade legislation. Last week (20 Dec) TRAFFIC and WWF called for the closure of Japan’s legal ivory market as a new study confirmed that the country still has one of the largest domestic ivory markets in the world.
WWF’s statement on the China ivory ban
Dr. Fred Kwame Kumah, Director, WWF Regional Office for Africa, comments:
“China has shown great leadership on this urgent issue. We hope they will join us in calling for neighboring countries, especially Laos, Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam to follow suit and close their legal markets without further delay.

This ban means we start 2018 a step closer to a world where the demand for ivory is extinct not elephants. The next few months will be an absolutely critical time for the ban to be effectively enforced and communicated.  There remains strong evidence that the illegal ivory market is still widespread both online and in unlicensed shops across China. This illegal market, if not adequately addressed, will undermine the impact of the legislative ban.”

What needs to happen next
Neighboring countries must follow China’s lead and close their legal ivory markets. The closure of the market in China is a huge step forward, but it may shift the market to neighboring countries, especially Vietnam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Thailand, where more and more Chinese tourists are buying ivory and other wildlife products.
The Thai government has done a good job of reducing the illegal ivory trade in Thailand, but the legal market for ivory from domestic Thai elephants creates opportunities for criminals to sell illegal African ivory in the market. The presence of a legal ivory market also creates confusion for tourists because they can buy ivory, but cannot legally take it out of the country.
Yowalak Thiarachow, Country Director for WWF-Thailand, praised the Thai government for their efforts to reduce the illegal ivory trade, but said “Thailand should continue to show leadership in addressing this global problem by taking the next step and completely closing its domestic ivory market. This would be an extremely important contribution to the global effort to end the ivory trade and stop the slaughter of the world’s elephants.”
For photos, click on this link:
For more information, please contact:
Niramon Soonyakrai (094 639 4993, (+66) 2619 8521-2 Ext. 607)
Nichanan Tanthanawit Conservation Communications Officer, WWF - Thailand
Phone: (+66) 2619 8521-2 Ext. 312, (+66) 83 816 0006
Ivory trade
© Marsden Momanyi Enlarge