Hope for elephants as ivory prices fall: conservation group

March 29, 2017
At its peak in 2014 wholesale prices for raw ivory stood at $2,100 (1,900 euros) per kg in Chinese markets, according to a report by two ivory trade experts

The price of ivory has fallen by nearly two-thirds in the last three years, according to research conducted in China and published on Wednesday by the conservation group Save the Elephants.

At its peak in 2014 wholesale prices for raw stood at $2,100 (1,900 euros) per kilogramme in Chinese markets, but by 2017 the price had fallen to $730 per kilogramme, according to the report by two ivory experts, Lucy Vigne and Esmond Martin.

"Findings from 2015 and 2016 in China have shown that the legal ivory trade especially has been severely diminished," Vigne said in a statement.

Chinese demand has driven a decade-long spike in elephant poaching in Africa, where the population has fallen by 110,000 over the last 10 years to just 415,000, according to a recent continental survey.

Vigne said both the amount of ivory for sale as well as prices had fallen at 130 licensed outlets in China, reflecting a drop in demand in the world's biggest ivory market.

The researchers said China's economic slowdown, plus a crackdown on corruption which sharply reduced the giving of ivory trinkets as gifts to officials, had also crimped demand.

At the end of this month China's 34 remaining licensed ivory-carving factories will be closed, after a recent government order putting an end to the legal trade.

But it remains unclear how the closing of the legal market will affect the illegal trade in .

International trade in ivory was banned in 1989, yet poaching continued and has accelerated in recent years, feeding a black market controlled by criminal gangs.

Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Save the Elephant's founder, said it was a critical but hopeful moment for the future of elephants.

"With the end of the legal ivory trade in China, the survival chances for elephants have distinctly improved," Douglas-Hamilton said.

"There is still a long way to go to end the excessive killing of for ivory, but there is now greater hope for the species."

Explore further: China to ban ivory trade by end of 2017

Related Stories

China to ban ivory trade by end of 2017

December 30, 2016

China will ban all domestic ivory trade and processing by the end of 2017, state media reported Friday, a move hailed by activists as a "game changer" for African elephants.

Smuggled elephant ivory price triples

July 3, 2014

The price of ivory taken from African elephants slaughtered for their tusks has tripled in the past four years in China, the world's biggest market, conservationists said on Thursday.

Recommended for you

How a cell knows when to divide

May 23, 2018

How does a cell know when to divide? We know that hundreds of genes contribute to a wave of activity linked to cell division, but to generate that wave new research shows that cells must first grow large enough to produce ...

Chimpanzee calls differ according to context

May 23, 2018

An important question in the evolution of language is what caused animal calls to diversify and to encode different information. A team of scientists led by Catherine Crockford of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary ...

Rehabilitating lactate: From poison to cure

May 23, 2018

George Brooks has been trying to reshape thinking about lactate—in the lab, the clinic and on the training field—for more than 40 years, and finally, it seems, people are listening. Lactate, it's becoming clear, is not ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.