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China destroys huge ivory find

May 29, 2015

Chinese authorities have confisctated and crushed over 660 kilograms of ivory as part of a crackdown on illegal trade. China has been under pressure to impose a complete ban on imports and domestic trade.

China Elfenbein Zerstörung
Image: Getty Images/AFP/F. Dufour

Beijing wildlife officials fed the 662 kilograms (1,460 pounds) of ivory and ivory products such as chopsticks into a machine that crushed the pieces into tiny pebbles in front of reporters and diplomats who had been invited to the event.

"We will strictly control ivory processing and trade until the commercial processing and sale of ivory and its products are eventually halted," Zhao Shucong, head of China's State Forestry Administration told reporters. It is the second time China has destroyed confiscated ivory in public.

China is keen to be seen to be tackling the illegal trade in elephant tusks and ivory products. China has banned the smuggling of ivory, but it in 2008 it secured an exemption to a global moratorium on ivory trading.

China Elfenbein Zerstörung
China is trying to shed its image as a global hub for the illegal ivory tradeImage: Getty Images/ChinaFotoPress

Experts believe that most illegal ivory is sold in China. A recent, joint report from Save the Elephants and The Aspinall Foundation - both UK-based - found that more than 100,000 wild elephants were killed from 2010 to 2012, with the slaughter largely fuelled by what it called the "out of control" illegal ivory trade in China.

Ivory products are seen as a status symbol by many in China, and conservationists argue that China's decision to allow the import of a certain amount of legal stockpiles into the country for the domestic market has provided a convenient loophole for the black market.

In February, China announced a temporary, one-year ban on all imports, saying that would allow authorities to gauge the effect on poaching. Critics have described the move as merely symbolic.

China has signed the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which in 2013 named China as one of eight nations failing to do enough to tackle illegal ivory trade.

ng/rg(AP, AFP)