China's ban on domestic ivory sales will have positive impact on elephant conservation, Rwandan experts told Xinhua in interviews recently.
China, which was once seen as a prime destination of ivory trade, made a commendable decision that stops the key supply channel of ivory and this will impact positively on elephant conservation, said Telesphore Ngoga, analyst at the tourism and conservation department of Rwanda Development Board.
China honors its commitment to ending commercial processing and sales of ivory in China by the end of 2017. The move affects 34 processing enterprises and 143 designated trading venues, with all of them to close, in the world's once largest ivory market.
It is obvious that the ivory supply is discouraged in favor of the elephants which had been kept under the threat of poaching, according to Ngoga. Such decision will hopefully influence other markets to finally follow the model, he said.
"This is the decision of the year," he added.
China's ivory ban will greatly contribute to eradication of poaching and killing of elephants which will promote conservation of elephants across all national parks in Africa and other areas outside the continent, said Greg Bakunzi, a wildlife conservation expert who is also the founder of a tourism enterprise.
Elephant numbers were severely depleted during the 20th century, largely due to the massive ivory trade, according to World Wildlife Fund (WWF). While some populations are now stable and growing, poaching, conflict and habitat destruction continue to threaten the species, said the wildlife conservation organization.
The 2015 trends in the poaching of African elephants showed that the steady increase in the levels of illegal killing of elephants witnessed since 2006, and peaking in 2011, had been halted and stabilized but at levels that remained unacceptably high overall, said the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in a statement in 2016.
Despite the slight decline and stabilization recorded since 2011, estimated poaching rates overall remain higher than the normal growth rate of elephant populations, or above the sustainability threshold, meaning the elephant population overall is likely to have continued to decline in 2015, said the statement.
Over 20,000 African elephants were poached across Africa in 2013 alone, CITES said in 2014.
China's commitment to expanding its involvement in reducing the ivory trade is vital toward shutting down other large ivory markets in the world, said Bakunzi, adding that China is showing a good example to the world about the importance of wildlife conservation and protection.
"Now it's time for other countries to take a stand for elephants and demonstrate global leadership on the closure of commercial processing and sales of ivory," he said.