For decades, China has been the number one consumer of ivory and in 2015 China agreed to officially ban ivory trading from 01 January, 2018. Over the last two years legal ivory retailers have been shutting down and on 01 January anyone selling ivory in China will be doing so illegally – something to keep in mind if you’re traveling to China. While many were still celebrating the ban, 326lbs (148kgs) of elephant tusks were being smuggled out of Nigeria on route to China. Authorities in Thailand seized the cargo on 05 January and estimate its worth at 15 million baht (470k USD).
The ivory trade has caused massive losses in Africa’s elephant population; since 2006 there has been an estimated 30% decline across Africa. Conservationists hoped that China’s pledge would send a strong conservation message to ivory consumers and turn the elephant population trend around. Thailand’s confiscation indicates that the illegal market is unrelenting despite China’s international agreement.
For more information see:
Associated Press. Thailand seizes more than $450K worth of elephant tusks. New York Post, January 12, 2018.
Bale, R. China shuts down its legal ivory trade. National Geographic, 30 December, 2017. https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/12/wildlife-watch-china-ivory-ban-goes-into-effect/
IUCN. Poaching behind worst African elephant losses for 25 years. 23 Sept. 2016. https://www.iucn.org/news/species/201609/poaching-behind-worst-african-elephant-losses-25-years-–-iucn-report