World

China pledge to end ivory trade delights conservationists, who want to know when it will occur

  • The U.S. government display confiscated illegal ivory before crushing more than a ton in an effort to halt elephant poaching and ivory trafficking, Friday, June 19, 2015, at Times Square in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

    The U.S. government display confiscated illegal ivory before crushing more than a ton in an effort to halt elephant poaching and ivory trafficking, Friday, June 19, 2015, at Times Square in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)  (The Associated Press)

  • U.S. government display confiscated illegal ivory before crushing more than a ton in an effort to halt elephant poaching and ivory trafficking, Friday, June 19, 2015 at  Times Square in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

    U.S. government display confiscated illegal ivory before crushing more than a ton in an effort to halt elephant poaching and ivory trafficking, Friday, June 19, 2015 at Times Square in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this file photo taken March 2015, fifteen tons of elephant tusks are set on fire during an anti-poaching ceremony at Nairobi National Park in Nairobi, Kenya.  Conservationists say it's a possible game-changer in the struggle to curb the slaughter of elephants: a pledge by a Chinese official to stop the ivory trade in a country whose vast consumer market drives elephant poaching across Africa. (AP Photo/Khalil Senosi-File)

    FILE - In this file photo taken March 2015, fifteen tons of elephant tusks are set on fire during an anti-poaching ceremony at Nairobi National Park in Nairobi, Kenya. Conservationists say it's a possible game-changer in the struggle to curb the slaughter of elephants: a pledge by a Chinese official to stop the ivory trade in a country whose vast consumer market drives elephant poaching across Africa. (AP Photo/Khalil Senosi-File)  (The Associated Press)

Conservationists say it's a possible game-changer in the struggle to curb the slaughter of elephants: a pledge by a Chinese official to stop the ivory trade in a country whose vast consumer market drives elephant poaching across Africa.

Now, conservation groups are waiting in suspense for China to outline how and when it would ban a sophisticated industry that criminal syndicates use as cover for their illicit business in tusks.

Zhou Fei, head of the China office of TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring organization, predicts that an ivory trade ban could happen in 2017 when a legal stockpile of ivory in China is possibly depleted.

The May 29 comment about an end to China's ivory trade came from Zhao Shucong, head of China's State Forestry Administration.