Two years ago, National Geographic reported that China had a legal stockpile of ivory that was holding steady at about 40 metric tons (roughly 88,000 pounds), made up of ‘drawdowns by government-licensed businesses.’
The lifespan of the ivory is less than eight years, leading analysts and experts to estimate the illegal stockpiles in China were 25 times greater.
There’s no secret the ivory trade in Asia is huge and is the largest importer of ivory, both legal and illegal. They are believed to be responsible for the slaughtering of 30,000 African elephants by poachers annually.
In 2015, a landmark announcement was made by China’s President Xi Jinping and then United States President Barack Obama that licensed ivory carving facilities and the retailers those factories supplied would be shut down.
In June 2016, the U.S. banned ivory, a monumental move by then-President Obama.
China agreed at the time to a “near-complete” ban on the highly-sought product taken from elephant tusks, outlawing the buying and selling of “all but a limited number of antiques” and “a few other items,” according to National Geographic.