China’s ban on buying and selling ivory went into effect Sunday. Former basketball star Yao Ming proposed a ban on ivory to the National People’s Congress in 2014 and worked together with animal-rights organizations WildAid, African Wildlife Foundation, and Save the Elephants to create awareness campaigns that resulted in the new legislation. “We can start 2018 hopeful that elephants will be safer now that China has banned commercial ivory sales,” WildAid CEO Peter Knights said. “Prices are down, and law enforcement efforts in many parts of Africa and Asia are much improved.” Ming and WildAid launched a video and billboard campaign on Sunday to educate the public about the ban on ivory. While illegal poaching of elephants continues to be an issue in many parts of Africa, WildAid hopes reducing demand in China will decrease supply. “The United Nations has unanimously called for domestic ivory sales bans, and many other countries are responding with action,” Knights said. “Japan alone remains unwilling to join the global community on this issue.”
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