President Salva Kiir of South Sudan on Wednesday banned ivory trade in an attempt to curb poaching in the violence-plagued country, which is believed to have become a hub for ivory smugglers.
While ivory trade has been banned internationally for decades, South Sudan has no national legislation on it.
“I order the closure of domestic ivory trade and the illicit market of ivory … for a minimum of 10 years,” Kiir announced at the swearing-in ceremony of a senior wildlife official.
Parliament is also considering legislation setting long prison sentences for poachers.
South Sudan, which is in the grip of a conflict that has left tens of thousands of people dead since December 2013, has few resources to combat poaching or ivory smuggling.
The country is believed to be used as a hub by international ivory smugglers.
In December, the authorities seized 500 kgm of ivory at Juba airport. Some of the ivory smuggled out of South Sudan is thought to come from its own wildlife reserves.
At least 500 elephants are estimated to have been poached during the conflict. According to wildlife officials that leaves between 3,000 and 4,500 elephants still living in the country.