China has long been one of the world’s biggest markets for ivory, but as of 2018 all trade in ivory and ivory products in the country is illegal.
The move is being hailed as a major development in efforts to protect the world’s elephant population. Wildlife campaigners believe 30,000 African elephants are killed by poachers every year.
State media said there had already been a 65% decline in the price of raw ivory over the past year. There had also been an 80% decline in seizures of ivory entering China, said Xinhua. The ban was announced last year and came into effect on Sunday, the last day of 2017.
Sixty-seven official factories and shops dealing in ivory had already been closed by March 2017, said Xinhua, and the remaining 105 were to have shut down by Sunday.