Price Of Illegally Poached Ivory Halves In China

Demand for elephant tusks has dipped.

The price of elephant ivory in China has fallen by almost 50 percent over the past 18 months, likely due to a shrunken demand in the country for illegally poached tusks, the Wildlife Conservation Network wrote this week in a blog post.

Raw ivory in Beijing went from costing an average of $2,100 per kilo (about $955 per pound) in 2014 to $1,100 (or about $500) by November, ivory researchers Lucy Vigne and Esmond Martin revealed in a study scheduled to be released by Save the Elephants in early 2016. The price drop reflects China's significant decrease in demand for the commodity, believed to be a result of the government's explicit commitments to cut down on ivory trade and prevent illegal elephant poaching.

Elephant poaching typically involves killing the animal, hacking off its tusk and discarding its carcass, The New York Times wrote in a gruesome report.

Historically, China has considered ivory ornaments and carvings to be status symbols, and the country is still widely believed to be the world's largest ivory consumer. But activists have long urged China to impose strict legislation on the ivory trade. 

Chinese authorities announced in May a commitment to phase out the country's domestic ivory industry. In September, the United States and China also announced a deal to carry out "nearly complete bans" on ivory imports and exports. To show its dedication, mainland China destroyed almost 7 tons of ivory to show the country's dedication to ban the wildlife crime, according to the World Wide Fund.

China recently made significant pledges to ban ivory imports and exports. In 2014 and 2015, China destroyed almost seven tons
China recently made significant pledges to ban ivory imports and exports. In 2014 and 2015, China destroyed almost seven tons of ivory.

Demand for ivory within the country also seems to have diminished. Vigne and Martin, who traveled across eight Chinese cities to conduct their research, said they "didn't see a single person buying an ivory item during weeks spent surveying the ivory retail outlets." The researchers also noted that many ivory retail outlets had cut back on floor space for displays of ivory items.

Other countries have also ramped up their efforts to prevent illegal elephant poaching. Last year, the Obama administration announced that it would prohibit all commercial trade of elephant ivory. And in October, Tanzania arrested a number of high-level ivory traffickers accused of smuggling at least 4,200 pounds of elephant tusks from East Africa to East Asia. 

But despite the fallen demand for ivory in China, Save the Elephants founder Iain Douglas-Hamilton said the world still had a long way to go to stop the African elephant poaching business. Indeed, the number of elephants in Africa fell from 26 million in 1800 to about 400,000 in August. At least 65 percent of the continent's forest elephants were poached between 2002 and 2013, WildAid reported last year. 

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