BEIJING — China promised Friday to halt its domestic ivory trade completely by the end of 2017, a decision greeted by environmentalists as offering real hope for an end to a poaching crisis that is wiping out tens of thousands of elephants across Africa.
“China’s announcement is a game changer for elephant conservation,” Carter Roberts, president of the World Wildlife Fund, said in a statement. “The large-scale trade of ivory now faces its twilight years, and the future is brighter for wild elephants.”
China said it would begin phasing out the ivory trade in March and cease processing and trading completely by Dec. 31, 2017.
The Natural Resources Defense Council, a New York-based environmental advocacy group, said the news “may be the biggest sign of hope for elephants since the current poaching crisis began,” while Grace Ge Gabriel, Asia director at the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said she …