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Elephant poaching and the ivory trade: The impact of demand reduction and enforcement efforts by China from 2005 – 2017

Zhou, Xuehong, Wang, Qiang, Zhang, Wei, Jin, Yu, Wang, Zhen, Chai, Zheng, Zhou, Zhiqiang, Cui, Xiaofeng, MacMillan, Douglas C. (2018) Elephant poaching and the ivory trade: The impact of demand reduction and enforcement efforts by China from 2005 – 2017. Global Ecology and Conservation, 16 . Article Number 486. ISSN 2351-9894. (doi:10.1016/j.gecco.2018.e00486) (KAR id:72652)

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African elephants are iconic species threatened by poaching and China was considered as one of the main destinations for illegally sourced ivory. In this article we combine two surveys of ivory carving enterprises with other data sets, including Chinese government seizure statistics, market prices for illegal ivory and substitute goods, to understand the impact of enforcement and demand reduction measures on ivory prices and poaching. Our analysis indicates the strong enforcement measures to combat ivory smuggling temporarily suppressed the tendency of illegal trade while stimulating a steep rise in illegal ivory prices thereafter. Peaking in 2012–2013, prices thereafter fell due to government measures to reduce demand under China's ‘Ecological Civilization’ programme and the announcement of ‘The Eight-point Regulation of the Centre’. Our survey suggests that most Chinese carving enterprises were intending to close or to diversify their business activities away from ivory carving as a result of the total ban on domestic ivory trading by 31st December 2017. And China had banned domestic ivory trade for over half a year and all ivory carving enterprises closed their ivory business activities since this domestic ban. In order to prevent ivory demand in other countries that may undermine Chinese efforts, we argue that other countries now also need to adopt multifaceted actions to curtail their domestic ivory trade.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1016/j.gecco.2018.e00486
Uncontrolled keywords: Elephant poaching, Ivory, Trade ban, Demand reduction, Enforcement
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Depositing User: Douglas MacMillan
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2019 12:39 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 14:02 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
MacMillan, Douglas C.:
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