China is trying to keep its ivory carving industry alive by banning any new companies from entering the market. The move, announced Friday by the State Forestry Administration (SFA), will help extend existing supplies of ivory for another 15 to 20 years.
Because there are limited amounts of the raw material, the SFA said Chinese companies can now only use no more than five tonnes of it every year.
Also included in the new regulations, is a guideline stating all ivory products must obtain official labels for trade, exhibition or export.
The SFA placed the African elephant under first-class state protection which means they can't be killed, captured or traded. The SFA also vowed to execute a national audit regarding material sand products involving the endangered species.
Ivory carving has taken place for more than 1,800 years in China. The cultural art craft faced severe material shortages after China joined the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1990, which banned global commercial trade of ivory.
In July 2008, China became the second approved trade partner of African ivory by CITES after Japan. China was allowed a one-time purchase of ivory from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe, which helped to increase material supply for the ivory carving industry.