Donate to Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation

Enter Amount

China bans ivory imports for 1 year as tusk smuggling threatens existence of African elephants.

China is banning the import of ivory products for one year amid criticism that its citizens' huge appetite for ivory is threatening the existence of African elephants.

The State Administration of Forestry declared the ban in a public notice issued Thursday, in which it said the administration would not handle any import request. The ban takes effect immediately.

In an explanatory news report, an unnamed forestry official told the state-run Legal Evening News that authorities hope the ban would be a concrete step to reduce the demand for African tusks and protect wild elephants. The official says the temporary ban would allow authorities to evaluate its effect on elephant protection before authorities can take further, more effective steps.

China is the world's largest importer of smuggled tusks.

The government also has warned its citizens not to bring back any ivory, but critics say the public awareness campaign is inadequate as many Chinese do not know that tusks can only obtained by killing the elephant.

After China acquired a legal stockpile of ivory in 2008, demand for ivory has surged among increasingly affluent Chinese who see ivory as a status-defining luxury, and high profits have fueled a strong underground market for the product.