WWF, TRAFFIC Data Show Positive Effects of China’s Ivory Ban
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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Publications by TRAFFIC and WWF provide a first analysis of trends in supply and demand for ivory products in China’s markets since the ivory trade ban that came into force in early 2018.

Since 2017, the number of stores with ivory for sale surveyed decreased by 30%, though the publication notes that the number remains high given that trade is now banned.

27 September 2018: New data published by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and TRAFFIC show that China’s ivory trade ban has had positive effects since coming into force at the beginning of 2018, but the studies emphasize that further action is needed to influence key segments of society. The two reports were released in advance of the London Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade in October, which focuses on ways to mobilize global efforts to address the poaching crisis endangering elephant, rhino, and other species populations.

The publications titled, ‘China’s Ivory Market after the Ivory Trade Ban in 2018,’ by TRAFFIC and ‘Demand under the Ban: China Ivory Consumption Research Post-Ban 2018,’ commissioned by TRAFFIC and WWF, provide a first analysis of trends in supply and demand for ivory products in China’s markets since the new legislative changes.

According to China Ivory Consumption Research Post-Ban 2018, 14% of respondents claim to have purchased ivory in the past 12 months, compared to 31% of respondents who reported doing so in a similar 2017 pre-ban survey. Since 2017, the number of stores with ivory for sale decreased by 30%, though the publication notes that the number remains high, given that trade is now banned. Online illegal ivory trade appears to also be declining, and the average number of new ivory advertisements decreased by 26.6% on websites and 10.6% on social media platforms, from pre- to post-ban.

Further amplification of messaging is needed to increase public awareness.

General support for the ivory ban is high, with nine out of ten respondents expressing their agreement with and support for the ban once made aware of it.

However, data reveal that ivory trafficking hotspots remain, including along the border with Viet Nam. Another point of concern, the publication notes, is the low level of awareness of respondents when asked about the ivory ban. While spontaneous (unprompted) awareness of the ban has doubled since the law changed – from 4% to 8% of those surveyed – further amplification of messaging is needed to increase public awareness.

SDG target 15.7 asks countries to take urgent action to end poaching and trafficking of protected species and address both demand and supply of illegal wildlife products. The studies find that 18% of regular outbound travelers bought ivory products on trips abroad, with Thailand and Hong Kong being the top two markets. The publications emphasize that making Chinese travelers aware of the ban and alternative souvenirs to ivory is critical to ensure continuation of positive demand reduction, and carry over into long-term benefits for wild elephant populations. [WWF Press Release] [China’s Ivory Market after the Ivory Trade Ban in 2018] [Demand under the Ban: China Ivory Consumption Research Post-Ban 2018]


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