China to ban ivory trade next year

China to ban ivory trade next year
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China will ban the domestic trade and processing of ivory by the end of next year, its government said.

China hosts the largest ivory trade in the world, estimated to account for up to 70 percent of the world’s ivory ending up there, selling for as much as $1,100 per gram, BBC News reported.

The State Council, the top administrative authority in China, announced the planned ban Friday in an attempt to “combat the illegal trade in ivory,” which harms elephants and other animals by creating a market for their poaching, it said.

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The government had previously said it would ban ivory without specifying a time frame, following an October resolution by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species calling for further action to stop the ivory trade.

Conservation groups cheered China’s announcement, calling it a major blow to ivory.

“China has shown great leadership in the fight to save African elephants,” Elly Pepper, deputy director for wildlife trade at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement.

“Setting such an aggressive timeline to close — once and for all — the largest domestic ivory market in the world is globally significant. It’s a game changer and could be the pivotal turning point that brings elephants back from the brink of extinction.”

In the United States, the Obama administration has taken numerous steps to strengthen existing ivory restrictions.

Most recently, a June regulation under the Endangered Species Act all but completely banned the interstate trade of ivory.

Gun rights advocates have fought Obama’s ivory rules, saying that they are meant to restrict the ability to buy historic guns.