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Value of ivory drops on China ban

A family of elephants graze in the Maasai Mara
A family of elephants graze in the Maasai Mara. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

China’s ban on the ivory trade has seen a 75 per cent drop in the value of the product at the world market to Sh70,000 a kilogramme.

The country widely believed to be the world’s largest consumer of ivory - both legal and illegal - declared all trade in ivory illegal from January this year.

A the time the ban came into force the value of raw ivory was Sh300,000 per kilo.

“We are delighted to see the doors of the world's largest ivory market close because poaching had climbed from a few thousand elephants a year to 33,000, one every 15 minutes, before the ban by China which at the peak of the trade accounted for up to 70 per cent of the total world market,” said WildlifeDirect CEO Paula Kahumbu.

The ivory trade has been a major cause of declining numbers of wild elephants, as poachers continue to hunt the endangered species for their valuable tusks.

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Ivory is normally sought for intricate carvings, trinkets, chopsticks, furniture inlays, flatware handles and other items. The United Kingdom announced it would ban the sale of ivory items as part of efforts to protect elephants.

While the international ivory trade ban went into effect in 1990, China continued to allow and promote sales within its borders.

It is this illegal domestic market that provided opportunity for traffickers to slip illegally obtained ivory into China’s legal market.

Kenya in 2015 stepped up war on elephant poachers by introducing satellite collars that track the movements of the animals.

Poaching in the country’s parks peaked between 2009 and 2013, as demand for ivory and prices shot up. In the four-year period over 100,000 elephants were killed.

In 1989, former President Daniel Moi set ablaze 12 tonnes of elephant tusks, marking intent to intensify the fight against illegal ivory trade.

In March 2015, President Uhuru Kenyatta burnt 15 tonnes of tusks estimated at Sh3 billion ($30 million).

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