Wednesday, November 30, 2005

China Boom Fueling Illegal Ivory Trade

Conservationists say China's growing economy is fueling a demand for illegal ivory, which is endangering African elephants.

According to the group Save the Elephants, between 5,000 and 12,000 African elephants are killed each year to supply illegal and unregulated markets in African countries, China, and Thailand with ivory. Most of the ivory comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo and other places in central Africa.

A research paper produced earlier this year estimates that several tons of African tusks are smuggled into China annually to supply illicit ivory factories.

Ivory items are also being sold in Germany, the United Kingdom, and other markets in Europe, but these are primarily made from pre-ban ivory.

In 1989, the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, known as CITES, instituted a global ban on the ivory trade after the death of millions of elephants at the hands of poachers.

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