A large majority of illicit ivory products wind up in China. Trade in elephant ivory was first banned in 1989, and bans have been lifted and re-instituted periodically since then; in 2002, for instance, the United Nations allowed a few African countries to legally export ivory. Most of the material that is illegally harvested by poachers finds its way into carvings and knicknacks for which there seems to be a disproportionate market in China. In 2007, the U.N. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species designated China as the world’s leading consumer of illegal ivory, and anecdotal evidence from Africa indicates that a large amount of poached ivory is being bought in Africa by Chinese or persons with ties to Chinese interests.
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