China has recently announced that the country plans to shut down its domestic ivory trade by the end of 2017.
The four-step plan will progress incrementally, with a halt to commercial ivory processing and sales taking place by 31st March, with the rest of the legal trade being banned by 31st December.
According to a translation of the announcement by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the plan is that China will help to transition workers in the ivory industry ― including ivory carvers and artisans ― into other fields that include the museum restoration of ivory artifacts.
China also promised to step up law enforcement efforts to stop the illegal trade, including a crackdown on ivory smuggling both online and in physical markets.
According to a release hailing the announcement, Wildlife Conservation Society’s Asia Program Executive Director Aili Kang said that the move was a “game changer for Africa’s elephants.”
It is worth noting that Hong Kong, Japan and the United States are also among the world’s largest domestic ivory markets and that the United States enacted a near-total ban on the sale of ivory in July 2016 with Hong Kong recently pledging to scrap its ivory trade by 2021.