(New York, NY, Feb. 27, 2015) – The following statement was released by WCS President and CEO Cristián Samper on China's announcement of a one-year ban on ivory imports. Samper also serves on President Obama's Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking:

“WCS welcomes yesterday's announcement by the Government of China that it has imposed a one-year ban on ivory imports into the country. This action shows leadership by the world’s largest ivory consumer nation and we hope to see additional and stronger action by officials in China on limiting the on-going demand of ivory in their nation.

“While we welcome this announcement and the recognition by China of the serious crisis facing Africa’s elephants, we note that the importation of elephant ivory by all nations is already prohibited by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), with some small exceptions.

“Furthermore, limiting the ban to one year and restricting it to just imports (i.e. excluding the sale of ivory in China) will prove insufficient to end the poaching crisis affecting Africa’s elephants. A lengthy moratorium on all domestic ivory sales, as well as imports, is the greatest hope for Africa's elephants and for quashing the transnational crime of elephant poaching and ivory trafficking that undermines local, regional, and global security.

“An estimated 35,000 elephants are poached annually to feed the global demand for ivory. That’s 96 elephants killed every day. Africa’s forest elephants have been reduced by 65 percent since 2002. At WCS, we strongly endorse a three-pronged strategy of stopping the killing of elephants, stopping the trafficking of ivory, and stopping the demand. China’s continued leadership will be essential if we are to make progress reducing these losses and preventing the extinction of one of the world’s most intelligent, social, and iconic species.”