China replaces Japan as largest consumer of illegally traded ivory. Global Times and http://twitter.com/#!/LearnFromNature
Advertisement posters, pleading the public to say “no” to ivory products, have been placed in many subway stations in cities across China, and have drawn attention to the growing illegal trade of the product in the country.
However, the posters are far from enough to stop the rampant trading of ivory in China. According to a recent survey by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), China has replaced Japan to become the largest market of illegal ivory consumption.
The organization inspected 158 ivory processing and retail locations in Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Fuzhou and Putian in Fujian Province, discovering that the number of illegal stores is nearly twice the number of legal ones.
It also said that illegal ivory trades globally have increased from 4,000 cases in 40 countries in 1997 to more than 10,000 cases in 77 countries and regions today.
Hua Ning, the project manager at the IFAW China office, told the Global Times that due to the ivory trade, the number of African elephants has decreased from 1.3 million to 600,000 over the last 20 years.
Animal protection experts called the purchase of ivories, or ivory-made products, “evil consumption.”
In Guangzhou, some buy the ivory to engrave seals or gift it to business partners or officials, said Zhang Xingsheng, managing director of the Nature Conservancy’s North Asia Region.
“The possession of rare but valuable items can show off one’s great power or abilities,” Zhang told the Global Times, adding that he believes there are collectors, but is unsure of their motivations to do so.
Since the ivory trade is forbidden, there are no exhibitions for collectors to show their items and then sell them. Therefore, it is possible that they just hoard it to get a higher price on the black market.
Most ivory consumers are young or middle-aged and have a good income and education background, said Hua.
“Many buyers believe that an elephant’s tusks will grow back after being cut off,” she said. “But the truth is that poachers usually kill them and then cut off their tusks because elephants are dangerous animals.”
According to international regulations, ivory trade in commercial fields is forbidden. To protect wild elephants and improve their living situation however, an auction of remaining ivory stores was held in four African countries in 2008.
Four Chinese companies successfully bid for the right to import ivories that year, bringing 62 tons to the country, which is the only batch of ivories legally allowed to circulate in China until 2017.
Concealed in containers, luggage, or in the mail, ivories are transferred from the black market in Africa to Asia and Europe. Nearly half of the ivories that land on the southeast coast of China are processed in Guangdong, Fujian and Zhejiang provinces and are then sent to Beijing, Tianjin, Shandong and Jiangsu, said the report.
China National Arts & Crafts (Group) Cooperation (CNACGC) is one of the companies that import ivories. To date, it has sold only 17.5 tons of ivories, according to the Southern Weekend, which also reported that two ivory carving factories in Beijing and Guangzhou bought 13 tons of the batch, while some smaller factories shared the last 4.5 tons.
- Elephant poaching: ‘Record year’ for ivory seizures (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- Wildlife 2011: “Annus horribilis” for African Elephants, says TRAFFIC (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- Possibly the largest haul of ivory ever found, 15 tonnes, seized in Malaysia (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- Asian Demand for Ivory Leads ‘Unprecedented Assault’ on African Elephants (planetsave.com)
- African tusks seized in Malaysia (bbc.co.uk)
- Vietnam makes ivory seizure (thehindu.com)
- Ivory Crisis: A simple case of supply and demand (victoriaellis.scienceblog.com)
- A Boom Year for Illicit Elephant Ivory (green.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Record ivory seizures point to surge in elephant poaching – The Guardian (guardian.co.uk)
- African countries face-off over ivory trading ban (elephant.co.uk)