The Chinese government plans to destroy a stockpile of contraband elephant ivory and other seized wildlife products next week during a public ceremony in Guangzhou, reports the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). The volume of ivory to be destroyed wasn’t immediately clear.
The ivory destruction will take place January 6, less than two months after the U.S. government crushed six tons of illegal ivory. The announcement comes six weeks after a story published in the Southern Weekly, a major Chinese newspaper, went viral and raised awareness among millions of Chinese on the impact of the ivory trade.
China is the world’s largest consumer of elephant ivory, demand for which has surged in recent years due to a rising middle class. WCS estimates that an average of 96 elephants are killed per day for the ivory trade, putting elephant populations in some countries at risk of extinction.
The government of China plays an important role in the ivory trade, running training centers for ivory carvers and issuing licenses for selling ivory. Much of the ivory produced by China ends up in religious trinkets, according to an investigative report published last year by National Geographic.