Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Hong Kong moves to end ivory trade.

Posted: 26 June 2017. Updated: 31 January 2018


Update (31st January 2018): Hong Kong has voted to ban the ivory trade! Proposals state ivory sales are to be phased out by 2021 and those who disobey the law could face a HK$10m (£920,000) fine and 10 years in prison.

Poaching is a major threat to both African and Asian elephants in the wild. There are thought to be around 352,000 savannah elephants remaining in Africa and only 40-50,000 Asian elephants. Legal ivory sales are thought to provide an opportunity for laundering poached ivory and create demand for ivory in consumer markets.

As the world’s largest legal ivory retail market, Hong Kong is a key destination for ivory poached from elephants. Illegal trade is facilitated by international criminal networks; it is fuelled by and aids corruption, undermines security and the rule of law, and can even provide funding to those involved with militia and terrorist activities.

In response to recent recommendations from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to close domestic ivory markets, the Hong Kong Government set out proposals to phase out the domestic ivory trade:

  • to immediately ban the import and re-export of all elephant hunting trophies and remaining post-Convention ivory items

  • to ban the import and re-export of pre-Convention ivory and subject pre-Convention ivory to licensing in the local market

  • to ban the possession of all ivory for commercial purposes, to take effect in December 2021.

ADI urged the Hong Kong legislative council to support the proposed measures but not compensate ivory sellers who claimed they would be left with ivory stock piles they would be unable to sell. Aside from the fact that traders have had ample time to deal with ivory stocks and most do not rely on ivory for their income, no other countries who have taken steps to ban their domestic ivory trade have provided compensation to traders.

After proposing a bill to enact the phase out under the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants law, Environment Minister Wong Kam-sing said the government would not compensate for the ivory as the city was “determined” to close the market down.

The legislative process to secure the ban is now underway. If passed, traders will have five years to close and dispose of their ivory.

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