Last year provided a number of very promising developments for the elephant, China saved the best till last by announcing a timeline for its much-anticipated ban on domestic ivory trade in late December. The Chinese Government announced that the ban will come into effect at the end of 2017, although some factories and traders will be required to close shop as early as March 31, 2017.
It was the final extraordinary step in an extraordinary year that saw many unprecedented steps that give real hope that the struggle to save the elephant can, possibly, finally be won. 2016 started with the Hong Kong's Chief Executive C.Y. Leung announcing that, after strenuous lobbying by local and international NGOs, there would be a phase-out of domestic ivory sales.
Hong Kong has served as a hub for illegal ivory for decades, with Japan - and more recently mainland China - as its principal end markets. Then, in April, the inaugural Giants Club summit took place in Kenya, bringing together African Heads of State, business leaders, scientists, NGOs and other influencers.