A year-long ban on ivory imports has been introduced by Beijing to reduce demand for the tusks and help protect elephants.
The ban was introduced with immediate effect and follows criticism that trade in ivory in China has fuelled the poaching that threatens the future of African elephants.
Some wildlife campaigners welcomed the measure but remain concerned that it falls short of addressing the root problem that China has a legal stockpile of ivory and a culture that encourages its sale as a luxury product.
The Environmental Investigation Agency, based in London, described the measure as “window dressing”. It has previously suggested Chinese government officials were involved in procurement of illegal ivory in Africa.
“It is unfortunate that [Chinese authorities have] not announced a much-needed policy change by banning all domestic trade in ivory – this is the policy change that could actually make a difference for elephants in Africa,” the agency’s Shruti Suresh said.
Chinese media suggested the ban was a holding measure to provide time to introduce more wide-ranging steps against the ivory trade. China is the world’s largest importer of smuggled tusks, although The Independent’s 2013 Elephant Appeal raised more than £500,000 to combat the poaching crisis.Reuse content