January 23, 2022

Campaign launched to encourage tourists not to buy ivory

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By Alicia Graef

China implementing a full ban on the commercial sale of ivory more than a year ago was a major victory to celebrate. However, conservationists have found that while it’s been effective in reducing the trade, tourists are still buying ivory products in neighboring countries.

In response, China Customs and the National Forestry and Grasslands Administration (NFGA) have partnered up with WildAid and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to launch a public awareness campaign to encourage travelers not to buy ivory souvenirs.

According to WWF, the campaign is part of a three-year initiative by China Customs to increase border security and stop the import of illegal wildlife products, and will appear in public media and customs entry and exit points at airports, train stations and border crossings to remind people that it’s illegal to bring ivory into the country with them, and raise awareness about the negative impact the trade is having on elephants.

“WWF’s goal is to reach Chinese travelers who have the means to buy ivory and access to it in popular destinations where ivory can still be found,” said Jan Vertefeuille, senior director for advocacy at WWF. “This campaign is the kind of collaboration we need between government agencies and conservation groups to get the word out that ivory is illegal to bring home and it’s not socially acceptable.”

So far, the ban, which went into effect December 31, 2017, has been successful in reducing the demand, but there’s still more to be done to end the trade in ivory. In September 2018, a survey released by TRAFFIC and WWF found that respondents’ intention to buy ivory had dropped by more than half since that ban went into effect.

“We are seeing some positive trends in post ivory ban China that indicate the new legislative changes may be yielding positive results. But persisting demand and a lack of awareness among consumers in some parts of the country as well as weak spots with insufficient regulation and enforcement means we need to redouble efforts in strengthening these areas,” Margaret Kinnaird, WWF Wildlife Practice Leader said at the time.

Unfortunately, the survey also showed that 18 percent of Chinese travelers were also still buying ivory on trips abroad, particularly on trips to Thailand and Hong Kong, while another investigation conducted by Save the Elephants found that other destinations, such as Laos, were still selling new ivory items to meet the demand.

Hopefully this public awareness campaign, along with meaningful enforcement, will make China’s ivory ban even more successful.

“WildAid brings decades of experience delivering high-impact media campaigns to protect wildlife to this partnership,” said Peter Knights, CEO of WildAid. “We’ve seen how these campaigns generate results in increased awareness and reduced consumption of wildlife products such as shark fin. This message with Huang Xuan will reach tens of millions of people, and will help build on the recent momentum to end the devastation caused by ivory consumption.”

With thousands of elephants still being senselessly killed every year for nothing more than their tusks, every effort to reduce the demand for ivory to end this bloody trade once and for all is a positive step forward.

Photo credit: Getty Images

For more on this story go to: https://www.care2.com/causes/campaign-launched-to-encourage-tourists-not-to-buy-ivory.html

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