In an unexpected and welcome move, China, the world's largest consumer of elephant ivory tusks, announced Thursday that it was enacting an immediate one-year ban on ivory imports.
The ban is a step in the right direction, but the domestic ivory trade is still a major problem, Rob Brandford, U.K. director of the elephant conservation organization the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, told The Dodo.
"To put a stop to the killing, however, we must end all trade, not just imports," he said. "The domestic trade in ivory in China serves only to create confusion, ambiguity and doubt over the legitimacy of ivory and makes law enforcement extremely hard."
China's State Administration of Forestry posted a notice Thursday saying that it would not handle any ivory import requests for the coming year, AP reports. The moratorium does not impact trade within state lines, however. The move was ostensibly to help lessen China's contribution to the poaching epidemic that recently wiped out 100,000 African elephants in just three years.