Bronx, NY, Dec. 31, 2017 — The following statement was released today by WCS President and CEO Cristian Samper:

“China’s New Year’s resolution for 2017 comes true Monday, Jan 1, 2018: It is no longer legal in China to process or sell elephant ivory. For many of us in the conservation community this is one of the most important pieces of a puzzle needed to save Africa’s elephants from extinction. 

"Over the next 2-3 years, our WCS teams in Asia and Africa will observe and analyze how this policy change in China will affect the poaching and trafficking of elephants; this closure of the legal market in China is expected to significantly reduce the opportunity to launder illegal ivory through legal markets. At WCS, we have hope for elephants with the closing down of the ivory trade that has decimated populations.

"All governments should follow the leads of China, the USA, and others, which have now closed their domestic ivory markets—heeding the requests from both the World Conservation Congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Conference of the Parties (CoP) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to close domestic ivory markets—all of which contribute to the poaching of elephants for illegal trade in their ivory.

"We urge the UK, European Union, and all governments that currently have legal domestic ivory markets to take further action in 2018 to protect elephants and remove the economic incentives to poach them for ivory—and close their ivory markets for good.

"We need to ensure nothing stops the global momentum to prevent further elephant losses, and to allow populations to recover.”