640px-Tanzanian_Elephant CC Schuyler Shepherd

In a historic accord to save Africa’s elephants from poaching, President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping agreed Friday to ban ivory sales in the United States and China.

As China is the largest market for legal and illegal ivory in the world, this ban on all exports and imports has the potential to save tens of thousands of elephants from poachers every year.Dr_Dame_Daphne_Sheldrick-elephant-hug-CopyrightTheDavidSheldrickWildlifeTrust

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“Mr Xi has today delivered a tremendous victory in the battle to save elephants,” said Azzedine Downes, CEO of the International Fund for Animal Welfare. “China has slammed the door in the face of all those who are profiting from the slaughter of elephants.”

China has also vowed to crackdown on ivory trade within its borders, driven by a growing middle class that frequently buys the products as a sign of their wealth. It also promised to eliminate the commercial importation of ivory into the country “in a timely manner.”

In addition to a long-standing commercial ban on ivory, the U.S., last year, banned imports of antique ivory and put limits on hunting trophies.African savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana africana)

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Both counties also promised to work together to share information and coordinate efforts to halt the trafficking of other wildlife products.

(READ more at National Geographic) — Photo: Schuyler Shepherd, CC

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