China allowed to buy stocks of elephant ivory

Despite protests by conservation organisations, China won permission in Geneva on Tuesday to bid for up to 108 tonnes of elephant ivory that will be offered for sale by four southern African countries.

A meeting of the Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) decided that China has sufficient measures in place to ensure that its ivory sales will be regulated and legal. The country wants to continue a tradition of ivory carving.

International trade in elephant ivory was banned in 1989, but a one-time sale to Japan was allowed in 1999. That ivory — also from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe – came from elephants that had been culled or had died naturally.

Conservation groups say this week’s decision threatens wild elephants and that new ivory imports into China will stimulate demand and make it easier for illegal ivory to make its way into the legal market.

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