BEIJING (30 December 2016) — The end of the world’s largest ivory market was announced today by the Chinese government as it released a detailed timetable for ending its legal ivory trade. Domestic ivory sales will be banned by the end of 2017 with the first batch of factories and traders to close their business by 31 March 2017.
Pangolins are small mammals sometimes referred to as “scaly anteaters” for their defining physical trait: large, overlapping scales composed of keratin, the same protein that makes up human fingernails as well as rhino horns. When threatened, pangolins curl up into a tight ball, a defensive posture that can protect them from predators — even lions.
This month, WildAid rolls out its first ever large scale public awareness campaign in Hong Kong on a fleet of about 80 double decker buses. The faces of Chinese celebrities Yao Ming, Li Bingbing, Lang Lang as well as Thai actor Tony Jaa can currently be seen carrying the ‘Ivory Free’ message to the Hong Kong public. The Kowloon Motor Bus Company buses also urge support for an ivory ban proposed by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.
Elephant ivory is plummeting in value throughout China, according to new data released Monday by Save the Elephants. Despite soaring prices for illegal ivory from 2010 to 2014, researchers Esmond Martin and Lucy Vigne report that raw ivory prices in China have fallen by half over the past 18 months — from $2,100 (USD) per kilogram to $1,100.
In their survey of eight Chinese cities, the researchers observed that consumer demand for ivory is in apparent free-fall. China’s ivory carving factories reported a severe shortage in tusks, and government-issued IDs required to legally sell ivory had been delayed. Save the Elephants will publish Martin and Vigne’s full findings next month.
The new data coincides with broader awareness and changing attitudes in China, where public knowledge of Africa’s elephant-poaching crisis doubled from 2012 to 2014, according to a March report by WildAid, Save the Elephants and African Wildlife Foundation. At the same time, the Chinese government has made progressive steps to control the illegal ivory market, culminating in President Xi Jinping’s September announcement that China and the United States would work together to halt the ivory trade.
With the United States and China making public commitments to halt the ivory trade, pressure is mounting fast for Hong Kong to do the same.
Due to its high overall trade volumes, easy access to mainland China, and lax regulation and supervision, Hong Kong is a global hub for the ivory trade. Licensed vendors can legally sell ivory obtained prior to the 1989 international ban on the commercial ivory trade. But the "legal" market is replenshing its original stock with ivory from recently poached elephants.
Two hard-hitting reports out Wednesday uncover this illicit trade that is fuelling the elephant poaching epidemic in Africa. The Washington Post reports that while American and Chinese pledges to enact near-complete bans is historic, the "spotlight is turning to Hong Kong."
In a historic address to the Chinese people, the Duke of Cambridge (Prince William) has urged China "to turn the tide of extinction" and reject the illegal wildlife trade that's driving the slaughter of endangered species.
"I am absolutely convinced that China can become a global leader in the protection of wildlife," Prince William said Monday in remarks to be broadcast on Chinese state TV channel CCTV1. "Your influence in the world means you can change the face of conservation in this century. This will be a contribution that would go down in history, one that your great grandchildren would speak of with great pride."
The address coincides with this week's official state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who will be a guest of Buckingham Palace for four days. "[W]e have seen a groundswell of action by governments to improve their laws and to work across borders to fight the traffickers," Prince William said. "Only last month, President Xi announced that China would take steps to halt the domestic trade in ivory, adding to the ban on ivory carving imports he announced in February. But we know the illegal wildlife trade cannot be solved by governments alone. The spotlight falls back on all of us, and on the choices we have to make to play our parts in addressing this problem."
WASHINGTON (Sept. 25, 2015) — In a historic accord to save Africa’s elephants from rempant poaching, President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping agreed Friday to ban ivory sales in the United States and China.
The announcement marks the first public commitment by President Xi to end ivory sales in China, the world’s largest market, and follows a pledge made by Chinese officials in May to phase out the domestic trade. It also puts heavy pressure on Hong Kong, a global hub for commercial ivory, to ban its legal trade — one that has provided cover for smuggling and illicit sales of ivory from African elephants poached in recent years.
A White House fact sheet released Friday confirms the agreement, full text below:
Wildlife Trafficking: The United States and China, recognizing the importance and urgency of combating wildlife trafficking, commit to take positive measures to address this global challenge. The United States and China commit to enact nearly complete bans on ivory import and export, including significant and timely restrictions on the import of ivory as hunting trophies, and to take significant and timely steps to halt the domestic commercial trade of ivory. The two sides decided to further cooperate in joint training, technical exchanges, information sharing, and public education on combating wildlife trafficking, and enhance international law enforcement cooperation in this field. The United States and China decided to cooperate with other nations in a comprehensive effort to combat wildlife trafficking.
This one-hour special that premiered in November on Animal Planet was nominated for Outstanding Nature Programming alongside PBS — for Ireland's Wild River, Snow Monkeys and Touching the Wild — and National Geographic Wild, for Wild Hawaii. WildAid CEO Peter Knights and Animal Planet's Erin Wanner share executive producer credits on the film.
Yao Ming has been one of WildAid's most influential ambassadors for nearly a decade. In Saving Africa's Giants, WildAid and Yao joined forces and traveled to Africa to educate consumers about the perilous state of rhinos and elephants. The film is narrated by Edward Norton and features the work of WildAid, African Wildlife Foundation, Save the Elephants, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Daphne Sheldrick and The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Dr. Will Fowlds, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Tusk Trust, Kenya Wildlife Service and South African National Parks.
Hong Kong's ivory market is booming thanks to an influx of tourists seeking luxury items — and that's impeding international efforts to end Africa’s elephant poaching crisis, according to a new report released Wednesday by Save the Elephants.
A survey of 72 Hong Kong retail outlets found nearly 31,000 ivory items displayed for sale, with jewelry the most popular item followed by figurines. Vendors estimated that 90% of customers were tourists from mainland China.
“No other city surveyed has so many pieces of ivory on sale as Hong Kong,” report co-author Esmond Martin said in a statement. “With higher taxes on the mainland, Hong Kong has become a cheaper place to buy ivory. With 40 million people crossing the border between the territories every year and controls lax, there’s little chance of their getting caught.”
Licensed vendors can legally sell ivory products obtained prior to 1990 when an international ban on ivory imports went into effect. But the city's licensing system has been roundly condemned as ineffective, allowing for the sale of illegal ivory from recently poached elephants.
This past Saturday, 20 children from ESF Clearwater Bay School in Sai Kung District chanted the slogan “Say No to Ivory!” as they delivered to the Hong Kong government’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) a giant elephant collage made up of 120 individually hand-written messages, urging the government to ban ivory sales.
The children, along with their teachers and parents, made up a boisterous crowd of around 50 people in the ground floor lobby of AFCD’s headquarters.