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China Destroys Seized Ivory

china crushes ivory

The world’s biggest consumer of trafficked ivory—most of which comes from elephants illegally killed in Africa—destroyed more than 6 metric tons of seized elephant ivory today. This move is a hopeful signal that China is firmly behind international action to stop rampant elephant poaching and illegal ivory trade.

China has previously indicated it is prepared to clamp down hard on the illegal ivory trade. The ivory destruction takes place just weeks after eight Chinese citizens were convicted given sentences of 3 to 15 years imprisonment for smuggling a total of 3.2 tons of ivory.

Attending the ivory crushing ceremony were Chinese government officials, as well as a variety of international observers including from the United States government, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the United Nations Environment Programme, and international non-governmental organizations including WWF and TRAFFIC.

“China’s actions, perhaps more than those of any other country, have the potential to reverse the rising trends of elephant poaching and illegal ivory trafficking.”

Tom Milliken
Ivory Trade Expert, TRAFFIC

“China’s gesture is a solemn commitment by the government to cleanse the Chinese ivory market and to guarantee the survival of Africa’s elephants,” said Fan Zhiyong, head of WWF-China’s Species Programme. “WWF believes that destroying seized ivory is a signal of the government’s commitment to enhance law enforcement against illegal ivory trade.”

China has a legal ivory market of items that pre-date the 1989 international ivory trade ban and a CITES sanctioned “one-off” ivory sale with four African countries in 2008. But under rules of the CITES, seized ivory cannot be used for commercial purposes.

In the past, Kenya, Gabon, the Philippines and the United States all destroyed large amounts of illegal ivory. WWF and TRAFFIC believe that the destruction of illegal ivory should be backed by rigorous documentation, including an independent audit of the ivory slated for destruction, to reduce the potential risk that some of it could leak back into the black market.

WWF and TRAFFIC are leading a global campaign to stop wildlife crime.

We are applying the strength of our worldwide networks, our influence with partners and governments, and the passion of our supporters to a crisis that is threatening to undo years of conservation progress.

Join our campaign and help us:

• Ask U.S. Congress to support legislation to crack down on wildlife trafficking and enact a moratorium on ivory trade in the US.
Support rangers on the frontline. These brave men and women are fighting a dangerous and unfair war against powerful criminal syndicates to save our wild species and spaces.
• Be part of the solution. Report wildlife crime and if in doubt don’t buy wildlife products if you are not sure they are legal.