Will China’s new ban on the ivory trade help or hurt? (Commentary)

At the end of 2017, China announced it had closed down the domestic trade in ivory. Conservation establishment players did victory laps declaring the move a major step in curtailing elephant poaching. The news website China.org.cn featured an opinion piece titled “More efforts are needed to stamp out the ivory trade” that essentially proclaimed that China had now done its bit and it was up to the international community to follow suit. Whenever I am at home and receiving my daily Google updates on wildlife-trade issues, I find there are now enough of these messages out there to give me the feeling that maybe something is indeed happening. That the world is finally taking the problems associated with the wildlife trade seriously. There are tons of NGO-generated press releases touting tales of successful enforcement actions. Then I am off on one of my usual gigs, packing the obligatory bag to do some filming and investigative work in West Africa, the Middle East or Southeast Asia — which generally results in a serious reality check. Reality bites particularly hard when it comes to China’s role in the global illegal wildlife trade and the control measures that the country supposedly has in place to curb it. The Asian juggernaut, by all accounts, leads the world in its demand for products from high-profile protected species. Yet most of these positive-sounding news items feature what are obviously opportunistic rather than systematically effective enforcement activities. When it comes to elephants, ivory is the key wildlife…

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Original Post by Mongabay

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