In a major step toward implementing its pledge to ban the ivory trade, China will close 67 carving factories and retail shops across the country on Friday, WildAid has learned. The first round of closures impacts about a third of all official shops and factories, according to documents released by China’s State Forestry Administration.
Late last year, China announced plans to stop all domestic ivory sales by the end of 2017. The country is currently the world’s largest market for elephant ivory products. Although international trade is prohibited, up to 30,000 elephants are killed illegally each year for their tusks.
“These closures prove that China means business in closing down the ivory trade and helping the African elephant,” said Peter Knights, CEO of WildAid. “The price of ivory has dropped by two-thirds from previous highs, so it is now a very bad investment. We expect further drops as the full closure approaches at the end of the year.”