China will gradually stop the processing and sales of ivory for commercial purposes by the end of 2017, according to the central government website.
The decision announced on Friday came after the country imposed a three-year ban on ivory imports in March this year in an escalated fight against illegal trading of wild animals and plants.
The move will affect the country’s 34 processing enterprises and 143 designated trading venues, with dozens to be closed by the end of March 2017, according to an official with the State Forestry Administration.
Before that deadline, law enforcement agencies will continue to clamp down on illegal activities associated with ivory, the official said.
The Chinese government’s decision also won the praise of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), as it said on its official website that “we celebrate another big win for elephant conservation with China’s game-changing decision to end the domestic ivory trade by 2017.”
It added that two of the world’s largest domestic ivory markets, China and the US, had shown great leadership in taking significant stands for elephant conservation and also called on other consumer markets across the world to follow suit.
Carter Roberts, president and CEO of the WWF, described China’s decision as a “game changer for elephant conservation.” He said that the future for wild elephants will be brighter with the world’s two largest ivory markets taking measures to end the ivory trade and he also said the moves will “reverberate around the world.”
According to the WWF, China and the US are two of the world’s largest consumer markets for wildlife products including the ivory trade.
To completely crack down on the ivory trade within the two countries, a joint commitment was made in September by Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Barack Obama to impose a near-total ban on elephant ivory in their countries.
The US ended its domestic ivory trade in June as new regulations were issued in the country to shut down the commercial elephant ivory trade within its border.
This story was published with permission from China.org.cn.