African countries want the European Union to follow China’s example and ban ivory trade.
The 29-member countries of the African Elephant Coalition on Friday praised China’s decision.
“It’s a breakthrough in the battle to save elephants. But other countries with legal domestic markets should follow suit,” Chairman Patrick Omondi said.
On December 30 last year China announced that it was ending the processing and trade of ivory and ivory products by March 31.
It said it would shut down the trade by the end of 2017, essentially closing the world’s largest market for ivory.
The European Commission is expected to issue new guidelines on ivory trade in the EU in the next two weeks.
A meeting between the EU and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species is scheduled for February 7.
A decision to ban ivory trade in the United Kingdom is likely to be made soon after.
On February 6, the UK Parliament will debate a petition to close domestic ivory markets.
The petition was signed by more than 100,000 people.
The coalition’s proposal at the September 2016 Cites meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, to ban international trade in ivory failed to gain a two-thirds vote.
The European Commission, voted against the proposal.
Only France, which is among the major EU states, supported strong measures to protect elephants.
Former Tanzania President Benjamin Mkapa recently called on all nations to ban trade in ivory.
“This means there will be no market for tusks,” said Mkapa at the ‘Walk for Elephants’ event in Dar-es-Salaam on January 14.
The event was attended by the Chinese ambassador to Tanzania, Dr Lv Youqing.
Tanzania’s elephant population, among the largest on the continent, has been hard hit by poaching.