Finally! On Wednesday, the city of Hong Kong announced that it plans to ban the domestic ivory trade.
The Guardian reports that Hong Kong’s leader, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, stated during his annual policy address:
“The government is very concerned about the illegal poaching of elephants in Africa. It will kickstart legislative procedures as soon as possible to ban the import and export of elephant hunting trophies.”
Chun-ying added that the city would “impose heavier penalties on smuggling and illegal trading of endangered species.”
While the leader did not disclose when the ban would take place, activists are celebrating the historic initiative as a ‘win’ for elephants and rhinoceros everywhere.
In case you’re not aware, the high-value of ivory is wiping out populations of the large land mammals. In fact, it is estimated that the Africa Elephant may go extinct within the next decade.
Which is why activists, like Alex Hofford of WildAid Hong Kong, are elated by the news. Hofford told CNN:
“Hong Kong has always been the dark heart of the ivory trade. This is where you place an order for poaching in Africa.”
According to official figures reported by The Guardian, “242 tonnes of ivory were sold in Hong Kong between 1990 and 2008, an average of around 13 tonnes a year.” But since 2010, sales have dropped to a tonne a year.
“We are delighted that the Hong Kong government has finally announced that they will start to phase out the local ivory trade. We’re now urging the chief executive to set a timeline and follow through with concrete action as soon as possible,” Hofford told AFP.
In September of 2015, China, together with the U.S., pledged to ban the ivory trade. With Hong Kong in on the action, it is likely an end of poaching will be witnessed in our lifetimes.