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Beijing has imposed a one-year ban on imports of ivory carvings as critics say rising Chinese demand threatens African elephants with extinction, but campaigners described the move as "more symbolic than effective" Friday. The measure came days ahead of a visit to China by Britain's Prince William, who has campaigned against illegal wildlife trafficking and is expected to speak on the issue during a stop in the southwestern province of Yunnan next Wednesday. The ban took effect Thursday and was announced by China's State Forestry Administration in a statement on its website. China is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), but conservationists say it is the world's largest consumer of illegal ivory, with skyrocketing demand leading to the slaughter of tens of thousands of African elephants each year.