China plans to ban ivory trade "within a year or so." US official: Yes it's a "huge" deal.

During his visit to Washington last month, China's President Xi Jinping vowed to stop the commercial trade in ivory in his nation, but didn't say much about when or how.

Today, the Washington Post reports that a senior U.S. government official told them the Chinese ban could be in place within a year or so, with very narrow exceptions. The official described it as a "huge" deal.

It could be the beginning of the end for the illicit trade in ivory.

Such a move, conservationists say, would be a major step toward ending the poaching crisis that is decimating Africa's elephant herds.

"This commitment goes all the way up to President Xi," Catherine Novelli, U.S. undersecretary for economic growth, energy and the environment in the State Department, said in a telephone interview. "They have made it very clear this is what they want to do."

"China to ban ivory trade within a year or so as pressure mounts on Hong Kong" [WaPo]