CHINA has destroyed more than six tonnes of illegal ivory, in a move welcomed as an important signal the country backs action to stop elephant poaching.
The ivory, which is sought-after in China for making ornaments, was seized from the illegal trade and has been crushed into powder by the Chinese government.
Conservationists say China is the world’s largest consumer of trafficked ivory, most of which comes from elephants killed in Africa, and the move sends a signal of the government’s commitment to tackling the problem.
Destruction of the ivory, from more than 600 dead elephants, comes just weeks after eight Chinese citizens were convicted and sentenced to between three and 15 years imprisonment for smuggling some 3.2 tonnes of ivory.
“The destruction of seized ivory makes an important public statement that, in conjunction with other government-led efforts to reduce demand, has the potential to have a significant impact on the illegal market for ivory,” said Tom Milliken, from Wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic.
“China’s actions, more than those of any other country, have the potential to reverse the rising trends of elephant poaching and illegal ivory trafficking.”
China has a legal ivory market based on stocks that pre-date a global ban on ivory trade imposed in 1989, and on stocks which were part of a legal “one-off” sale from four African countries in 2008, but the seized ivory cannot be be used for commercial purposes under international rules.
Gabon, the Philippines and the United States have all recently destroyed stockpiles of ivory