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AKR1

China to ban it's ivory trade at the end of 2017

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If they truly enforce this, it will be a huge blow against elephant poaching.

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~ IF...



And given the local mindset, track record, and lack of domestic interest or support, that's a mighty big “if”.



After decades of living here, watching carefully staged announcements aimed at the “foreign” media, which never once result in genuine change or action, hope has become an endangered species.



Nevertheless, in the spirit of blind optimism, one may hope for an unprecedented shift and the beginning of authentic concern about this country's thriving wildlife parts trade.



It would be unlike anything they've done in years and years and years, but anything's possible.



The “year of the chicken” will dawn at the lunar new year next month. One hopes that it will be the year of miraculous shifts in the top leadership's actual beliefs and actions.



Thank you for posting this.



Tom K.


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Hoping upon hoping. Come on year of the chicken, do your thing.

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the intent to move this way has been annouced for years, its is good to see an action date announced

 

this move is well overdue , perhaps thew reputational damage was getting too much

 

it will be interesting to see if this brings the hong kong timetable ahead of its own announced 5 year plan

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Posted (edited)

The news headlines and stories coming out of this are grossly exaggerated. All China is doing is closing the 35 or so licensed ivory carving factories and 130 or so licensed ivory stores. These factories and stores are supposed to push legal ivory only. (Though historically numerous observers have found illegal ivory in these legal stores, the amount pales in comparison today to that of the off-the-grid, illegal ivory market.) The announcement out of China is silent on its plans to tackle this illegal ivory market.

 

On the positive side, the closure of the legal network could serve as a “signaling event”, stigmatizing illegal ivory in China. On the other hand, the illegal ivory market far outpaces the soon-to-be-closed legal market. Continued virtual non-enforcement of the illegal market could result in status quo. (And yes, enforcement can actually be effective in a totalitarian state.)

 

Separately, the “near-total ban” in the U.S. you may have heard of from a July 2016 announcement is nearly meaningless.

 

None of the news articles written on this subject provide adequate background on the exact legal status of ivory, confusing the reader (but detailed and accurate pieces don’t sell newspapers these days). “China Banning Ivory, Thrilling Nature Groups” one says. Wait a minute, the ivory trade was legal in China? Some further Googling brings about even more surprising results: a headline from July 2016 reads, “U.S. Bans Commercial Trade of Elephant Ivory”. What? It took until July 2016 for the U.S. to ban such a gruesome practice? The fact is, there has been a ban all along… sort of…

 

The ivory trade was banned, though only intra-country, in 1989 (i.e., Tanzania, for example, can’t sell to, say, the U.S., but the American citizens are allowed to buy and sell “pre-ban” ivory amongst themselves.) No international body had/has the jurisdiction to go beyond an intra-country ban. This system of an “international ban” and an effective grandfathering of in-country, “pre-ban” ivory buying and selling has been in place since 1989 practically everywhere in the world – that is to say, the laws governing ivory have been remarkably similar in China and the U.S., just to focus on the two countries (see footnote). There are, however, three important distinctions with respect to China: (1) China was granted a special, one-time, legal, CITES-blessed purchase of raw ivory (composed mostly of ivory from natural elephant deaths) in 2008 from four countries in Africa (the so called, “2008 one-off sale”); (2) the legal ivory market in China is institutionalized. Whereas one may find random shops in the U.S., as well as in many other countries, selling old, pawned-off ivory trinkets, there are 130 or so licensed, legal ivory shops and 35 or so licensed, legal ivory carving factories in China. Theoretically, these licensed carving factories and stores are to deal only in pre-ban and “2008 one-off sale” ivory, but this has not always been the case; and (3) China has had a rampant, off-the-grid illegal ivory market since the 1990s.

 

In retrospect, the announcement of closing the legal, licensed factories and stores was the easiest route and the most PR “bang-for-the-buck” for China. Will this serve to stigmatize illegal ivory in China? Will China step up enforcement and bust a few powerful, connected people responsible for the illegal business? These are the unanswered, important questions.

 

As well, the “near-total ban” in the U.S. falls short of the slogan. Not that the U.S. needs a “near-total ban”. The U.S. has not been responsible for the elephant poaching crisis since the 1989 international ban, contrary to some horribly misleading news pieces (see http://safaritalk.net/topic/15469-huh-the-us-is-the-second-largest-market-for-what-really/?hl=%20illegal%20%20ivory). As alluded to, Americans have always had the legal right to, say, dispose of an inherited, pre-1989 ivory item, via a pawn shop, to an antique collector. The only substantive change that occurred this year is that such transactions can now only occur intra-state and under much more onerous conditions of proving that the item is indeed old enough. (There are a few states that have outlawed or are in the process of outlawing even intra-state transactions, but those rules may not survive court cases. This is beyond the scope of this thread.) So, a “near-total ban” it isn’t. And again, not that the U.S. needs a “near-total ban”.

 

Footnote: Ivory is unique in terms of in-country enforcement: old ivory is legal. No other item I can think of has this temporal element in its legal status. Why not just make everything illegal? If you really take the time to think about it, you will realize, short of what essentially amounts to confiscation of property, what an impossible task that would be for countries with fair, developed legal frameworks.

Edited by Safaridude
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All I can say is that it's a major step in the right direction. Will Zimbabwe and Nambia continue to try and sell their seized stocks of ivory to China? I sincerely doubt it. As I've known long before the1989 CITES ivory ban at least 95% or perhaps even 98% of the " Ivory" sold in Hong Kong is in fact worthless plastic. I can imagine that the percentage of what is sold in the illegal shops is even higher. I know that they even sell ivory which supposedly comes from mammoths which I find hilarious.

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I'll remain hopeful that even this step makes a difference. I'm a skeptic by nature, but I have to think any step in the right direction has to help.

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Thanks for the detailed statement, @@Safaridude . Good to read you again here, you have been missed.

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Good review @@Safaridude

 

All I can say is that it's a major step in the right direction. Will Zimbabwe and Nambia continue to try and sell their seized stocks of ivory to China? I sincerely doubt it. As I've known long before the1989 CITES ivory ban at least 95% or perhaps even 98% of the " Ivory" sold in Hong Kong is in fact worthless plastic. I can imagine that the percentage of what is sold in the illegal shops is even higher. I know that they even sell ivory which supposedly comes from mammoths which I find hilarious.

 

@@optig the sale of stock is to be from legally obtained ivory only (ie ivory taken from elephants which died naturally), NOT from seized ivory (ie ivory seized from poachers).

There is trade of ivory from mammoths too, it's not hilarious, it happens. With the de-frosting of permafrost in the Siberian tundras many mammoth carcasses, and their ivory, have become reachable. Usually mammoth ivory has a more pinkish color too it.

 

Here's a link to a NG piece about mammoth ivory hunters: LINK

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Thanks for the detailed statement, @@Safaridude . Good to read you again here, you have been missed.

 

 

+1

Happy New Year, K.

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~ “雷声大,雨点小” = “huge thunder before little rain”



Tom K.


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@@egilio Thank you for correcting me. I'm sure that you're aware that when you sell ivory from elephants which have a died from natural causes or from culls, often ivory from poached elephants will

be sold as coming from legitimate sources. This is one of the reasons that I feel so vehemently that there should be no sale of ivory.

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  • it is not an easy situation

the pledge to close the China legal ivory market came many months before the effective date was given out

perhaps the embarrassment of the ivory trade became too much for China

all the trade has to go not just the legal trade

perhaps the political challenges of dealing with a president trump brought forward the decision , there is no need to have another unnecessary problem around

the actual announcement from the chinese govt is only in their own language and is untranslated , so those who live elsewhere cannot see its detailed terms

things can change it could be linked to an anti corruption drive just as the reduction of shark fin soup was

overall it is an interesting challenge, the hong kong market is remaining open to 2021, will a whole lot of stock be sent there ?

chinese visitors to HK ,Laos, Cambodia etc come back with ivory and other illegal wildlife products ,then get almost no customs checks when returning home, will this get worse ?

most of the international NGO'S who comment of the illegal wildlife trade have not made any comments ,perhaps they think it is too early ,there is nothing from save the elephants, environmental investigation agency or the elephant action league

all markets must be controlled Japan is unlikely to act pretending that they are well regulated after a trader had been recorded as wanting to pay for a tusk with a brown paper bag of cash exchanged in a public place

things are developing but who knows the real meaning of it all

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one of the explainations given by the NY TIMES looks interesting IN BANNING IVORY TRADE CHINA SAW BENEFITS FOR ITSELF TOO dated 2 Jan

 

there are a number of factors involved

 

  • control of corruption and money laundering
  • desire for respect from Africa who now supply minerals
  • it is recognized that ivory finances organized crime, terrorist groups, armed militas and kills rangers
  • the loss of face with the presidents official party buying up ivory on an official visit to Tanzania and getting it out under cover of diplomatic immunity as shown in the EIA report VANISHING TIMES was acute
  • china's desire to be seen as a world power
  • china's desire for an ecological civilization and a raised profile for being environmentally responsible at a time when the USA is abandoning action on climate change

to get a positive effect from policy changes , all the ivory trade must be closed down as the announcement intended

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  • The actual announcement translated into English can be found in a EIA commentary dated 6 Jan 2017 CHINA IVORY BAN A BIG WIN FOR ELEPHANTS http:/./www.eia-international-org

  • the elephant action league has published comments supportive of the ban , but concerned at what is likely to happen with the minimum estimated 1,000 metric ton hidden stockpile of illegal ivory

Paula Kakumba of wildlife direct has published a commentary in THE GUARDIAN in which she expresses concern about the ongoing power of organized crime, what will happen in places like Laos and Vietnam and urges serious action against organized crime . the approach to take for the best the best result is 1 DNA place origin analysis and radio carbon dating of legal stocks 2 a serious law enforcement effort in China 3 a large scale advertising campaign campasign in china to inform the public of the massive involvement of organized crime

another analysis 6 Jan on the guardian says that 1/2 the market will be banned before the end of March . the other issues to address are close monitoring with regular audits to prevent stock moving from the legal to black market, effectively dealing with internet sales including social media , taking good control measures against Chinese tourist sales in Laos, Vietnam etc, and dealing with organized criminals running poaching operation in Africa ,often headed by Chinese . international cooperation is needed here

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A serious concern is the provision for allowing the auction sale on antique ivory, an easy way to cheat the ban , this is already being done in the UK and EU

 

f this is going to be done it should be allowed only after radio carbon dating, the only way to show the real age of ivory

 

it has already come out through coverage of the phillipines that carvings can be varnished to make them look older than they really area

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I was completely wrong on this.

 

In the official statement by China just released, there is a paragraph on stepped up enforcement against illegal ivory. It's only a statement, but it's clearly a positive step.

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On one of the Sunday political TV shows in the US- Fareed Zakharia GPS, former Secretary of State James Baker responding to an introductory report by Fareed on China's action spoke passionately about how much difference for the survival of elephants the Chinese action will make. And Baker is a hunter although he says he has never hunted elephant.

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@ AKR! I think that they will have to enforce it because international pressure against ivory traffic has grown so enormously. It's especially encouraging that the Chinese population is increasingly against the use of ivory. I saw "The Ivory Game" on Netflix

and thought that it was excellent.

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there has been a walk for elephants organized recently in dar es saalam calling for a total ban on all the ivory trade

 

interestingly it was organized by the Tanzania china friendship association, some Chinese companies and wildlife ngo's

 

so at least some chinese realize that the current situation cannot go on

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I just noticed that even the Namibian Professional Hunter's association supports the closing of all of China's ivory factories by the end of 2017. I'm happy that sanity is beginning to prevail even in the most unexpected quarter.

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