As a vast tusk-burning ceremony unfolded on May 1 in Nairobi, French Minister of Ecology, Ségolène Royal, announced a complete ban on ivory trade on French soil. Working alongside African states in the fight against poaching, it will soon be impossible to sell or buy ivory anywhere in France.
The new ban will focus mainly on sales at auction, including antiques. Royal also declared that she planned on bringing the measure to the European level. According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, an elephant is killed every 15 minutes for its ivory, meaning a total of between 25,000 and 35,000 elephants are killed each year.
According to estimates from environmental protection NGO Robin des Bois, one tonne of ivory is sold each month in France. "If France no longer hands out [export] certificates, the market will eventually dry up", explained the association's spokesperson Charlott Nithart.
The measure completes a series of decisions taken since January 2015 by France as part of its Biodiversity Act and will be effective immediately.
It is worth noting that while ivory has been strictly regulated in the country since 1990, previous laws did not cover items dating from before 1947, considered as antiques, or raw ivory that had entered the country before 1990.