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China’s ivory ban marks big step for elephants

Elephant
The Great Elephant Census documents a decline in the species. (Great Elephant Census via YouTube)

China’s pledge to shut down commercial trade in ivory within a year comes as welcome news to conservationists who have been fighting for years to save endangered elephants – including Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

The Chinese government’s announcement on Friday laid out a plan to close domestic trade in elephant ivory by the end of 2017, following up on a commitment made by President Xi Jinping in 2015. The ban will be phased in starting in March, and will apply to physical sales as well as online transactions.

China already has been taking steps to counter the illegal trade, including widely publicized ceremonies during which authorities have crushed down tons of elephant tusks and carved ivory. The country is nevertheless considered the home of the world’s largest ivory market.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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