China has announced a ban on all ivory trade and processing activities by the end of 2017.
The move follows a resolution at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in South Africa in October 2016 that was backed by China.
This decision is consider historic and a game-changer for the future of elephants.
China has the biggest ivory market in the world- some estimates suggest 70% of the world’s trade ends up there.
CITES is multilateral treaty between governments to protect endangered animals and plants. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
China had previously announced it planned to shut down the commercial trade, which conservationists described as significant because China's vast, increasingly affluent consumer market drives much of the elephant poaching across Africa.
China, which has supported an ivory-carving industry as part of its cultural heritage, said carvers will be encouraged to change their activities and work, for example, in the restoration of artifacts for museums. More efforts will be made to stop the illegal trade, the statement said.Chinese trade in ivory
- China has allowed trade in ivory acquired before a 1989 ban on the ivory trade by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
- It seeks to regulate the multi-billion-dollar trade in wild animals and plants.
- China also permits trade from a one-time CITES-approved purchase by China and Japan of an ivory stockpile from several African countries in 2008.
- The number of Africa's savannah elephants dropped by about 30 per cent from 2007 to 2014, to 352,000, because of poaching, according to a study published this year.
- Forest elephants, which are more difficult to count, are also under severe threat.