Only time will tell if these commitments can save the elephants.
The trade and sale of many wildlife products, including rhino horn and tiger parts, are banned in Asia. Yet, they continue to be poached at catastrophic levels with points of sale being hidden from plain sight.
There are also other sources of ivory such as hippo and walrus teeth. This raises concerns: could the ban on elephant ivory shift a greater burden onto these animals? And could these still legal ivory trades serve as cover for illegal elephant ivory dealings?
We must also remember that while China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore have made a stand, other large ivory markets—such as Thailand—have yet to do so.
What comes next is uncertain, but we must, for now, celebrate these bold moves from some parts of Asia, which send a message that ultimately, “the life of an elephant is more important than the ivory carving culture.”
Editor's note: A previous version of this article did not specify that Singapore's proposed ban on the trade was only for domestic sale, and not a blanket ban. This has been rectified on 29 May 2019.