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Benefits of China ivory ban trickle to Kenya

Sandra Wekesa @PeopleDailyKe

It is eight months since China’s ivory ban came into effect and Kenya is celebrating as the war against poaching has registered significant gains. China, in a landmark agreement between president Xi Jinping and former US president Barrack Obama in 2015, agreed to ban the buying and selling of ivory. The ban came into effect last year on December 31.

Since then the price of raw ivory has gone down from Sh700,000 (US$7000) to Sh300,000 (US$3,000) per kilo in the world market, representing a 75 per cent drop.  In China, 67 official factories and shops dealing in ivory had been closed 10 months before the ban came into effect and the remaining 105 were expected to be closed by December last year, according to Xinhua.

Dr Paula Kahumbu, Wildlife Direct Chief Executive Officer, says the door of the world’s largest ivory market is now closing because poaching has climbed from a few thousand elephants a year to 33,000- one every 15 minutes– before the ban by china in 2015. At its peak ivory trade in China accounted for up to 70 per cent of the total world market.  

A worldwide ban on ivory trade was put in place 28 years ago, but China continued to be a significant player in the ivory trade as demand for intricate carvings trinkets and chopsticks  continued to rise.

Tourism and wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala during the World Elephant Day Celebrations on August 12 alluded to the fact the country’s elephant population has been increasing over the past years. As of last year December elephants population stood at 33, 984. This indicates that the population is increasing annually since 1998 at a rate of 2.25 per cent.

The hallmark of this year’s celebration was the melting of an ice sculpture of a life-size elephant in Nairobi and other cities across the globe to raise awareness on the need to conserve the elephant population. 

During the event global brand, Amarula launched the Don’t Let Them Disappear campaign in South Africa, a joint initiative with African wildlife conservation organisation, WildlifeDirect. Various other countries, including Duty Free, the United States, Canada, Brazil and Germany are also participating in the global campaign. Dr Kahumbu said:

“What many people don’t realise is that the future of the African elephant is at a tipping point, and this could have a far-reaching effect on the greater African habitat, because elephants are keystone species.  This means that they play an indispensable role in the healthy functioning of the larger ecosystem.”

If elephants were to disappear off the face of the earth, the ecosystem would change dramatically or cease to exist altogether. This might be a reality at the rate that things are going – around 96 African elephants are poached for their ivory every day, that’s one elephant every 15 minutes.

Kenya Wine Agencies Head of Corporate Affairs, Gordon Mutugi hailed the new role of corporates in conservation efforts saying it signalled an end to ivory as a durable investment commodity because poachers would no longer be able to resell it.

Kahumbu recalls that when they started hands off elephants  campaign in 2013, most people had no idea what this meant to the larger ecosystem. “I am glad that despite the hurdle of getting people to conserve elephants we eventually were in sync and worked harder to make sure that this was just not a one-time thing but was further persisted,” she says.

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