Good news! Hong Kong abolishes Ivory trade!

Time for an animal welfare update guys. It’s a positive one this time!

I was in the process of writing an article regarding the trade of Ivory in Hong Kong when I found out that Hong Kong decided to abolish this cruel trade.

I researched this further and all seems to suggest that the Hong Kong Legislative council has indeed voted to abolish the domestic Ivory trade with 49 votes against 4.  It will be a 3 stage process which aims to remove the legal Ivory market completely by 2021.

What if someone breaks the law?

Fines for the sale of hunting trophies and ivory will increase to the maximum of HK$10m ($1.3m).

The punishment for smuggling and illegal trading of endangered species will also increase from 2 to 10 yearsWe like the sound of that.

Why is Hong Kong so important?

Hong Hong has been considered as a trading hub for legal and illegal elephant bone for more than half a century.  It’s the largest ivory retail market. Carved pieces from West and Japan as well as British Colony’s ivory retail fueled the industry in 1920’s.  In the 60’s there were up to 8000 carvers working for the colony.

Ivory carved piece
I know this carving work is impressive, but come on – let elephants live. Carve in stone instead.

The ban of ivory trade was in plan for a long time but the traders never took it seriously. If anything, the industry only grew in profit when last year, Hong Kong supposedly hit the the biggest boost in 30 years whereby seven tonnes of tusks were seized, valued at more than $9 000 000.

Ivory is still highly demanded in China where it is considered as a symbol of wealth and high social status. The Chinese particularly fancy African Ivory which is why it is important to keep an eye out for smuggling too.

According to Wildlife Aid, ~ 30 000 elephants are illegally killed per year.

Elephants still need our help

Although trophy hunting has now been banned in several places, illegal poachers are still doing their business. Therefore, we cannot give up neither:

  • As always, spread the message. Talk about the causes, consequences and declining elephant numbers.
  • Whilst visiting Asian or African countries, pay greater attention to sales of ivory and products made of it. Mugs, statues, pendants and other jewelry, boomerangs, carved pieces, Mahjong tiles, all sorts of stuff. Do not ever buy them! If it looks suspicious, leave it.
  • In Hong Kong, the trader will be obliged to dispose all of the ivory stock by 2021 – you could go the extra mile and report them if you see ivory on a shelf after 2021.

Esmond Bradley Martin-an investigator into illegal trades of ivory and rhino horn who risked his life many times to help these huge mammals has been found killed in Kenya. His work was used to pressure China to ban hunts for rhino horns and domestic sale of ivory. I don’t believe in such coincidences.  Ivory trade is worth millions and won’t stop with a click of our fingers.

Remember: Your voice matters, social media storms and awareness among people influence the governors who aim to protect the political reputation. Without the protest of the public, this would happen at a slower rate or wouldn’t happen at all.