China's announcement to phase out its legal ivory trade is extremely welcome news. China's legal trade provides the cover for the more than 63 percent of illegal ivory flooding the black market. Wildlife conservation experts agree that China is the single largest contributor to the current elephant extinction crisis, and closing down its legal trade can go a long way towards shutting down demand for ivory products.
However, as conservation groups like WildAid have noted, China has yet to announce timelines or goals for its phase-out. While China's announcement is extremely promising, we'll need clarification and - most importantly - follow-through to ensure these steps will truly help save elephants.
Meanwhile, efforts to end the ivory trade here in the US are flourishing in many states, even as some have hit temporary roadblocks. As important as China is to ending the elephant crisis, the US is the No. 2 consumer of illegal ivory products. Change begins at home.
And as China works on implementing its commitment to end its trade, it is more crucial than ever that the US stand up against wildlife trafficking through a full ivory sales ban.