UN considers Chinese ivory trade bid

China will attempt to become a licensed ivory buyer at international talks this week. Environmentalists say the application poses a significant threat to the survival of African and Asian elephants.

The legal ivory trade was banned in 1989 by the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) after poaching caused African elephant populations to fall by more than half, the Independent reported.

Cites officials say China’s enforcement of the laws on illegal trade in ivory are satisfactory. But conservationists say the country does not have adequate control of its ivory trade, and allowing a legal trade will also fuel an illegal trade in ivory. Campaign group the Environmental Investigation Agency says more than 20,000 elephants a year are killed illegally in Africa and Asia for the ivory black market.

The Chinese government lost track of 121 tonnes of elephant ivory over 12 years, which were probably sold on illegal markets, a Chinese
report to UN regulatory officials said.

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