We welcome China’s announcement. It sets an ambitious, but achievable, timetable to enact a near-total ban on domestic commercial sales of ivory by December 31, 2017. The United States and China have worked closely on technical aspects of our respective bans to help close two of the largest markets for ivory sales in the world.
The United States remains committed to the international consensus on the importance of shutting down domestic ivory markets in order to protect and conserve the world’s remaining populations of wild elephants. Over the past decade, elephant poaching has continued at unsustainable levels. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature estimated that approximately 20% of Africa’s remaining elephants were killed during that time, with as many as 20,000–30,000 killed annually. Elephant poaching is driven primarily by the illegal trade in ivory, which fuels part of the roughly $23 billion in illegal wildlife trafficking each year – one of the five most lucrative illegal trades in the world, according to the United Nations Development Programme.
Presidents Obama and Xi Jinping recognized the role that legal domestic ivory markets continued to play in supporting the illegal killing of animals, which led to their historic joint agreement in September 2015.