People, Environment

15 African Countries Praise China's Ivory Ban

15 African Countries Praise China's Ivory Ban15 African Countries Praise China's Ivory Ban

A coalition of 15 African countries at the weekend welcomed China's commitment to closing its domestic ivory markets by the end of 2017, saying the move signals Beijing's goodwill in protecting Africa's elephants.

Countries, which are members of the Elephant Protection Initiative, said in a joint statement issued in Nairobi that the closure of China's ivory market is a crucial step to secure a future for elephants in their current range, reported.

Brighton Kumchedwa, director of National Parks and Wildlife for Malawi, welcomed Beijing's pledge to stop their domestic ivory trade in 2017, saying it will both reduce demand and close the legal markets through which criminals are known to launder illegal ivory.

"Malawi has taken our own fight to combat illegal ivory trade to another level. Just last month, the courts have passed record sentences for wildlife crime, and parliament passed new wildlife legislation," Kumchedwa said.

"But as one country, there is only so much we can do, and China's commitment has boosted our determination and belief that if we all work together we can indeed save Africa's elephants from extinction."

Every 15 minutes an elephant is murdered so that someone somewhere can buy an ivory bracelet, carving, or some trinket that humans and elephants both could live without.

China, which officially announced the ban on Dec. 30, 2016, says the ban will take place in stages, according to China’s State Council. It will shut down its 34 ivory processing centers and 143 approved ivory trading centers by March 2017.

China’s Ministry of Culture will help verify legal ivory in museums and also help workers involved in the ivory industry—such as sellers and master carvers—find alternative jobs. People who already own legal ivory products will be permitted to keep them or give them away as gifts or, with state approval, sell then at auctions.

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