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China's Pledge to End the Ivory Trade: Why it Matters

In statements made this week by a top Chinese official to the Washington PostChina has pledged a high-level commitment to ending its current legal commercial ivory trade.

While a concrete timetable has yet to be developed, the official, Dr. Meng Xianlin of the CITES Management Authority of China, confirmed the action could happen "very quickly."

WildAid, African Wildlife Foundation and Save the Elephants, who have mounted the world’s largest ivory public awareness campaign with Chinese media, have welcomed this action as a historic move in the fight to save African elephants from rampant poaching. An estimated 33,000 elephants are being killed every year to supply ivory markets in China, Thailand, Hong Kong, the U.S. and other nations.

“Ending legal sales of ivory in China is the greatest single step that can be taken to reduce elephant poaching in Africa and we hope it can happen as soon as possible. We applaud China for its leadership and will continue to work closely with Chinese state and private media in our campaigns to reduce demand for ivory," WildAid CEO Peter Knights said.

“Cuu Te Giac,” Vietnamese for “Save Rhinos”

In just a few short months, WildAid’s second-year initiatives for our “Stop Using Rhino Horn” campaign have become viral hits in Vietnam, reaching over 1 million people via traditional and social media channels.

Why are we working in Vietnam? In recent years, the country has become a primary market for rhino horn. Given its exorbitant cost, it’s used by some to demonstrate affluence and social status, both as a party drug and as a gift to important political officials. It’s also peddled as a cure for myriad health problems including cancer, despite any medical evidence proving such benefits.

Our campaign aims to educate the public about the rhino-poaching crisis and to counter the myths of rhino horn’s alleged medicinal benefits. After all, rhino horn is primarily composed of keratin fibers, the same as human hair and fingernails.

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Update: AB 96 Passes California Assembly, Awaits Senate

Update, Tuesday, June 2. Good news: AB 96, the bill to close ivory trade loopholes in California, has passed overwhelmingly and on a bipartisan basis in the state assembly. The 62-14 vote is a big win for Speaker Toni G. Atkins' bill. The state senate will now take up the legislation; we will keep you posted on upcoming hearings. 

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Will China Go Ivory Free?

On Friday, WildAid attended an ivory destruction event in Beijing, where nearly 1,500 pounds of tusks and carvings were destroyed. 

During the event, Zhao Shucong, head of China’s State Forestry Administration, announced that China "will strictly control ivory processing and trade until the commercial processing and sale of ivory and its products are eventually halted.”

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'Illicit Ivory' Now Streaming Online

“Illicit Ivory,” a new half-hour documentary film by Earth Focus, investigates how criminal networks and militant groups use profits from ivory to fund insurgencies and terrorism. 

Between 2009 and 2014, organized criminal networks moved an estimated 170 tons of ivory — the yield from a quarter of a million dead elephants.  

The film features interviews with ivory trade experts including WildAid CEO Peter Knights. 

Watch the full film at KCET's website