Just a few months after the promise made between Chinese President Xi Jinping and American President Barack Obama in September to ban the trade in ivory, the price of ivory has almost halved in China with demand plummeting.
This is excellent news for Africa’s herds of roaming elephants, which are killed in the upper tens of thousands each year by poachers hungry for tusks, as China is the world’s largest consumer of ivory (the U.S. is a close second), which is used medicinally and also as decoration and display of wealth. Ivory carving is an art form which dates back to ancient China.
As China’s wealth has risen, so too has the price of ivory, which sold at around $2,100 per kg in 2014. However, since last month, the value has dropped to only around $1,100.
The public has became increasingly aware of the mass murder of pachyderms as more and more major news stories cover the illegal Chinese luxury trade. In just the last few months, the arrest of the “Ivory Queen of Tanzania” and the massive police busts of major smuggling rings within China have made headlines. Also, the work of popular public figures such as athlete Yao Ming and actress Li Bingbing has helped to raise awareness.
A survey from March 2015 conducted by WildAid, the African Wildlife Foundation and Save the Elephants in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou found that 95% of respondents were in support of an ivory ban, an increase 50% increase in support since 2012.
World-renowned elephant conservationist Iain Douglas-Hamilton has also weighed in, calling Xi’s ban on ivory crucially important in driving down demand.
Prince William will be so proud when he hears this!
By Mary DeMay
[Images via Flickr // WildAid]