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Chinese Ivory Prohibition? It will nasty the common Chinese, but it will not protect the elephants

With China in 2018, China renounced trade in ivory and officially closed this commodity for the domestic market. But as the American scientist Peter J. Li writes in ForeignPolicy, it is no joy to exaggerate yet. The ban concerns only official demand. According to him, the role of the world's ivory transshipment is rapidly taking on other Asian countries.

China's ivory market has been considered the largest in the world, and its official closure is considered by Western conservationists in particular as a major victory. The notion that legal termination would have a positive impact on the populations of massacred elephants in Africa is, however, odd, according to Peter J. Li, an associate professor at the University of Houston and an animal welfare expert. Reasons to cast doubt on unjustified optimism are, in his opinion, a whole host.

Offer has ended, not demand

The very first critical point is the mismatch between supply and demand of ivory in China. Each year, five tonnes of ivory of certified origin can be sold here (until the end of 2017) through a regulated market. And each time, it has again turned out that real demand exceeds 100 tonnes per year. Thus, the local market was far from saturation at the time of its closure, and unsatisfied demand would likely create incentives for illegal import.

The year 2018 can be regarded as a "point of a new beginning" , but practically nobody is able to estimate how much ivory and especially its products are in China at the moment. The circulation of ivory products is so extensive that it is virtually impossible to segregate from the past before the ban and which was produced after it. The prerequisites for creating a "gray zone" of exchange and illegal trade in vaguely identified ivory products are so obvious.

Is not this legal? He will be smuggled ...

Only legal importation was forbidden, and according to Peter Li, basically everything was said. The gates are now open to unofficial trade, but with considerable potential. Corruption and the lack of enforceability of the essence of the whole commendable intent just record it. Although China has "disappeared" from the official international sales map, it virtually immediately strengthened the ivory market in Vietnam, Thailand and Japan. Neither is the United States of America, where the demand for ivory grows year after year.

The idea that "when the trade stops, the killing of the elephants also stops" , according to Li, an untenable ideal. In Japan, ivory sales continue to be fully legal, and the second strongest US market has not disappeared. Problematic, at least for elephants, remains the political and security situation in Africa. Transnational criminal syndicates focusing on stamping and smuggling of ivory remain on the ground practically unlimited, regardless of wars and unrest.

Uncertain results of wars for ideals

Tanzania, South Africa, or Kenya are increasingly aware of the need to eradicate corruption in the ranks of their own state administration to save elephants. And that's a long-distance run. Li further mentions that the prohibition itself basically does not solve anything . "America declared war on drugs thirty years ago. And do you feel that they were actually uprooted from the streets of US cities? Ivory is valued on the market like drugs. Do you think it will be different with them? "Says Li.

The main lack of a ban is seen by Li primarily in the way the Chinese government seized it. Directively. "There would be more gentle measures on the ground. Cuttings, engravings and ivory products are some of the most valuable artwork. They are the purest embodiment of rich Chinese culture, an undeniable cultural heritage. And for more than four decades, China is under international pressure that it is all wrong. "

Li argues that global pressure to close Chinese ivory markets is an example of "Western cultural aggression and somewhat disproportionate interference . " And the ban also perceives local people as "a forced concession abroad" . That is why their will to really accept it can be doubted. "Culture is not unchanging, it evolves. But people are not going to deny the fact that what they have been doing for thousands of years is suddenly wrong, " Li warns.

As Li writes, "Before I finished this text and you read it, at least two other elephants died in Africa. It is necessary to congratulate the Chinese President Xi Jingping for the right decision, but to save the elephants, more will be needed. "

Author: Radomír Dohnal

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