image courtesy: Nat Geo

The wholesale price of raw ivory in China has fallen by almost two-thirds in the past three years, a new report unveiled today shows, noting that the Chinese government has during that time made increasingly strong commitment to close the domestic ivory trade.

China will on 31 March 2017 shut down all ivory factories in the country. All retail outlets will be closed by the end of this year.

According to the report by researchers Esmond Bradley Martin and Lucy Vigne for the conservation organisation, Save the Elephants, the average price of tusks was $2,100 per kg in early 2014, but by late 2015 it had fallen to $1,100 per kilo. The price decline continued, plummeting to $730 per kg in February 2017, according to the report entitled Decline in the Legal Ivory Trade in Anticipation of a Ban.

“Findings from 2015 and 2016 in China have shown that the legal ivory trade especially has been severely diminished,” said Ms Vigne. The 130 licensed outlets in China have been gradually reducing the quantity of ivory items on display for sale, and recently have been cutting prices to improve sales, according to the report.

The study gives several driving factors behind the decline in the wholesale prices for raw ivory in China. An economic slowdown has resulted in fewer people able to afford luxury goods, and a crackdown on corrupt is dissuading business people from buying expensive items as favours for government officials.

The Chinese government has also made strong commitments to close down the country’s legal ivory trade, and public awareness campaigns have exposed many potential buyers to the impact that buying ivory has on Africa’s elephants.