A complete ban on ivory trade went into effect Sunday in China, which had been smugglers’ top destination.
The Chinese Forestry Ministry said on its official account on Chinese social media platform Weibo: “From today… the buying and selling of elephant ivory and goods by any market, shop or vendor is against the law!”
“From now on, if a merchant tells you ‘this is a state-approved ivory dealer’… he is duping you and knowingly violating the law,” it added.
The ministry said that the ban also applied to online sales and souvenirs purchased abroad.
According to the Xinhua state news agency, a partial ban had already resulted in an 80 percent decline in seizures of ivory entering China. Domestic prices for raw ivory are down 65 percent, it said.
In March, Xinhua reported, 67 factories and shops involved in China’s ivory trade had closed. The remaining 105 were expected to close later.
In March 2016, Beijing had previously banned imports of all ivory and ivory products acquired before 1975.
Ivory sees high demand in China, where one kilogram is sold for 1,050 euros, reflecting a high social standard. The demand in the country leads to the killing of tens of thousands of African elephants annually.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) announced that the illegal hunting of elephants has led to a decline in these animals’ number by 110,000 to reach 415,000.