China’s Ivory Market after the Ivory Trade Ban in 2018

China is reputed to be one of the world’s largest markets for illegal ivory trade. Since 2002, ETIS (Elephant Trade Information System) reports to CITES have consistently identified China as the leading destination for ivory globally (Milliken, 2016). In September 2016, An Act to Save African Elephants - A Ban on Commercial Ivory Trade in China - A Feasibility Study Briefing, released by WWF and TRAFFIC, called on the Chinese Government to ban ivory trade in order to reduce the threats to African Elephants effectively. This bold action was designed to enable China to play a more active role in global wildlife conservation and to have a positive influence in compelling other countries and regions to strengthen their actions in cracking down on illegal trade in wild animals and plants overall (Xu et al., 2016).

On 30th December, 2016, the Circular on Phasing out the Commercial Processing and Sales of Ivory and Ivory Products was issued by the State Council, requesting “the first batch of accredited ivory manufacturers and retail stores to cease processing and selling ivory and ivory products before 31st March 2017, while the remaining group of ivory manufacturers and stores were required to shut down their ivory selling operations before 31st December, 2017” (General Office of the State Council, 2016).