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Ivory Price in China dropped sharply as the country plans to end the legal trade in Ivory later this year

The Chinese government has taken steps to stop the trade in ivory; Chinese demand for tusks has been driving African elephants toward extinction

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Confiscated ivory statues stand in front of one of around a dozen pyres of ivory, in Nairobi National Park, Kenya, April 28, 2016. A leading elephant conservation group said Wednesday, March 29, 2017 that the price of ivory in China has dropped as the country moves toward a ban on the legal trade of ivory this year, VOA

Nairobi, March 30, 2017: The price of ivory in China has dropped sharply as the country plans to end the legal trade in ivory later this year, a leading elephant conservation group said in a new report Wednesday.

Chinese demand for tusks has been driving African elephants toward extinction, experts say. The Chinese government in recent years has taken steps to stop the trade in ivory, which is used for ornamentation and souvenirs. China’s ivory factories are to be shut down by Friday, followed by the closing of retail outlets by the end of this year.

The new report surveys the price of ivory in markets across China between 2014 and early this year. It found the price dropped from $2,100 per kilogram in early 2014 to $730 in February.

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Conservationists say tens of thousands of elephants have been killed in Africa in recent years as demand for ivory in Asia, particularly China, increased. Past estimates of Africa’s elephant population have ranged from 420,000 to 650,000. Some conservationists estimate that up to 20,000 elephants are killed by poachers every year to meet demand.

“This is a critical period for elephants,” said Iain Douglas-Hamilton, president and founder of Save the Elephants, which carried out the research.

“With the end of the legal ivory trade in China, the survival chances for elephants have distinctly improved. We must give credit to China for having done the right thing by closing the ivory trade. There is still a long way to go to end the excessive killing of elephants for ivory, but there is now greater hope for the species.”

Other factors behind the drop in the price of ivory include an economic slowdown in China resulting in fewer people being able to afford luxury goods, and a crackdown on corruption that has dissuaded business people from buying expensive ivory items as “favors” for government officials, the new report says.

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“Findings from 2015 and 2016 in China have shown that the legal ivory trade especially has been severely diminished,” said Lucy Vigne, a researcher with Save The Elephants. The 130 licensed outlets in China gradually have been reducing the quantity of ivory items on display for sale, and recently have been cutting prices to improve sales, the report says.

By 2015, some of China’s main licensed retail ivory outlets were closed at the time of the researchers’ visit due to slow sales. In other cases, vendors were replacing elephant ivory displays with mammoth ivory dug out of the Russian tundra.

China continues to be the largest consumer of mammoth ivory, whose price also has dropped from $1,900 per kilogram in 2014 to $730 this year, the report said.

Wildlife authorities in Kenya, the main conduit of ivory smuggling in the region, welcomed the news of a price reduction in China.

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“Once they don’t have an appetite for ivory it will no longer be attractive to kill elephants. We are hopeful that China will meet this deadline (to ban the ivory trade) and we will see our elephant populations restored in the parks,” said Patrick Omondi, the deputy director in charge of species at the Kenya Wildlife Service.
-(VOA)

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Beijing Could Improve Human Rights As Part Of The Universal Periodic Review

All U.N. member states undergo such screening, generally every four to five years. Le said China had accepted 82 percent of the recommendations presented during the review last November. The council formally adopted the review of China without a vote Friday.

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Indian Muslims shout slogans during a protest against the Chinese government, in Mumbai, India, Sept. 14, 2018. Protesters demanded that China stop detaining ethnic Uighurs in detention and political indoctrination centers in Xinjiang region. VOA

A top Chinese diplomat claimed Friday that detention centers for Muslims in China’s western province of Xinjiang are “campuses, not camps” and said they are eventually going to be closed as a “training program” for ethnic Uighurs is downsized.

At the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Executive Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng reiterated China’s insistence that the detention centers are designed to provide training and fight regional terrorism. He also claimed that officials from around the world, including from the U.N., had visited the region and that the detention centers in Xinjiang are “actually boarding schools or campuses, not camps” as reported by critics.

The U.S. State Department said this week that China has “significantly intensified” a campaign of mass detentions of minority Uighurs over the last year, with between 800,000 and 2 million people from the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region interned in camps. The centers have drawn condemnation from across the world.

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At the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Executive Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng reiterated China’s insistence that the detention centers are designed to provide training and fight regional terrorism. Pixabay

Le told reporters he had recently visited some Uighur centers in Xinjiang — and played ping pong and ate halal food there. He didn’t specify when the detention centers would be closed, other than telling reporters later that would happen “at the appropriate time.”

He also took aim at a U.S.-led event in Geneva on Xinjiang — calling that “unacceptable” interference in Chinese sovereignty.

Human Rights Council

The envoy’s comments came as China was responding to more than 200 recommendations by other countries on ways that Beijing could improve human rights as part of a Human Rights Council process known as the Universal Periodic Review.

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He also took aim at a U.S.-led event in Geneva on Xinjiang — calling that “unacceptable” interference in Chinese sovereignty. VOA

All U.N. member states undergo such screening, generally every four to five years. Le said China had accepted 82 percent of the recommendations presented during the review last November. The council formally adopted the review of China without a vote Friday.

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The United States, historically one of the few countries to confront China over its human rights records, pulled out of the 47-country Geneva-based U.N. body last year, alleging it has an anti-Israeli bias and other shortcomings.

Norway’s ambassador in Geneva voiced the most criticism among diplomats at the council on Friday. Hans Brattskar said Norway regretted that China did not accept any recommendations related to the Uighur detention situation in Xinjiang. (VOA)