China has an ugly history with the illegal ivory trade, but has recently been taking it more seriously (they’ve carted out Yao Ming, which means this is a big deal). Earlier this week, the government reigned in the New Year with its first-ever massive public destruction of illegal ivory.
Shanghaiist has had the displeasure of reporting on many recent ivory headlines, mostly involving smuggled goods from Africa and a tremendous number of dead elephants a continent away. This week’s ivory destruction featured more than six tons of the stuff fed into a massive wood-chipper, as The Telegraph reports:
The ivory came from shipments from Africa intercepted by customs officers as well as from carving factories and shops in China.
It represented just a fraction of the illegal ivory China – the world’s biggest market for the product – holds in stockpiles, the government said. […]
Stiff penalties were recently handed down to eight Chinese citizens for smuggling and an article in the Southern Weekly, a major Chinese newspaper, about the impact of the ivory trade went viral.
However, the government still receives hefty revenues from selling its official stockpile to licensed carving factories.
China’s leadership also appears unwilling or unable to crack down on illegal traders – a survey by the International Fund for Animal Welfare in 2011 found that out of 158 shops and carving factories in four major Chinese cities, 101 were not licensed, or were selling smuggled ivory.
China certainly has a long, long ways to go in cutting down the stupid knick-knack/penis-myths demand among citizens that props up the ivory trade, but it does look as though they’re beginning to take it more seriously.
[Image via Xinhua]