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LCA Blog

Blog for Last Chance for Animals, an international non-profit dedicated to ending animal cruelty and exploitation.

China Joins Fight to Protect African Elephants; Bans Ivory Imports for 1 Year

An estimated 100 African elephants are killed by poachers each and every day, leaving this majestic breed on the brink of extinction.  That’s about one elephant every 15 minutes.  By current estimates, only 400,000 of these beautiful animals remain on the entire planet.  If the massacre continues at this rate, the species could be wiped out in several regions of Africa within only a few years.  


Why are these elephants dying? Because the insatiable demand for their ivory tusks, particularly in the Asian markets, has led to the illegal trafficking of ivory products becoming increasingly more profitable.  In reaction to this global dilemma, the Chinese government has just imposed an immediate one-year ban against imported ivory in all its forms. This comes amid growing worldwide criticism that Chinese consumer demand is a significant driving force behind this escalating violence.  

At LCA, we applaud this new ban – and we hope it is well enforced.

The announcement was posted on the website of the State Forestry Administration on February 26, 2015.  A follow-up statement was issued by a government official stating that China would increase its efforts to prosecute those involved in illegal tusk smuggling to the highest extents of the law.  While the capital city of Beijing has consistently campaigned against illegally acquired ivory, China still remains the world’s leading importer of smuggled elephant tusks.  Over 6 tons of illegal ivory were seized just last year in the city of Dongguan alone.


In 2008, China legally acquired over 60 tons of precious ivory which has only increased consumer demand even further.  

Products that contain ivory have long been considered a type of status symbol among the more affluent communities in China, which is only fueling the poachers’ greedy ambitions to higher and higher levels.  The world has been watching as the African elephant has been slaughtered by the thousands, all in the name of status-conscious consumerism.  
In an open letter signed by several highly regarded conservationists including David Attenborough, a global call-to-action was made to Chinese President Xi Jinping to put an end to the mass killings.  Many are crediting this letter as the final push that resulted in the recent legislation passed in China, outlawing the buying and selling of all forms of imported ivory completely. 


Meanwhile, London’s Environmental Investigation Agency recently issued a scathing report that accuses certain officials of the Chinese government of direct involvement in the importing of smuggled ivory tusks.   Many in the activist community fear that the recent announcement for a one-year ban may only be a political smokescreen.  Is the Chinese government truly committed to ending this murderous rampage against the African elephant?  The world is watching.

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