In a joint statement, China and the United States announced their commitment to end domestic commercial ivory sales.
The two countries will cooperate in “joint training, technical exchanges, information sharing, and public education on combating wildlife trafficking, and enhance international law enforcement cooperation in this field,” according to the statement.
This announcement marks Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first public commitment to end ivory sales in China.
On Friday, September 25, Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama pledged to end commercial ivory sales in their countries.
In a joint statement, China and the United States announced their commitment to enact “nearly complete bans on ivory import and export, including significant and timely restrictions on the import of ivory as hunting trophies, and to take significant and timely steps to halt the domestic commercial trade of ivory.”
The two presidents also announced their decision to cooperate in “joint training, technical exchanges, information sharing, and public education on combating wildlife trafficking, and enhance international law enforcement cooperation in this field.”
“Two of the most powerful Heads of State want an end to all ivory trade,” Cristián Samper, President and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society, said in a statement. “That’s only good news for elephants, and we call upon all governments to follow suit.”
China is home to the world’s biggest market for poached ivory. In May this year, the country decided to phase out its domestic ivory markets, and Friday’s announcement marks Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first public commitment to end ivory sales in China, according to a statement released by Wildlife Aid.
“Today China has slammed the door in the face of all those who are profiting from the slaughter of elephants,” Azzedine Downes, CEO of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), said in a statement released by the IFAW. “As the world’s largest market for legal and illegal ivory, this ban will save the lives of tens of thousands of elephants.”
U.S. is the second biggest consumer of ivory. In February last year, the Obama administration announced a new strategy to fight illegal wildlife trafficking.
Friday’s joint statement by the two countries has elevated the crisis of wildlife trafficking “into the diplomatic discourse among the world’s most important global political leaders,” according to the Humane Society of the United States.
Poaching for ivory has decimated African elephant populations. A 2014 study found that poachers killed about 100,000 African elephants in just three years, between 2010 and 2012. According to the United Nations, around 100 African elephants are slaughtered every day for their tusks.
Such rampant elephant poaching, driven by highly organized crime rings, continues to drive the domestic sales of ivory in countries like Hong Kong, China, Thailand, Vietnam and the U.S.
“Even with today’s announcement, it is vital for the world community to stay vigilant in range states by improving protection of wild elephants and dismantling the criminal networks that are driving the trafficking,” Samper of WCS said in the statement. “We must keep emphasizing a comprehensive strategy to stop the killing of elephants, and stop the trafficking and demand for ivory.”