IAR joins calls for Hong Kong to outlaw ivory
As part of the Asia for Animals coalition, IAR has joined calls for the Hong Kong government to enact “an urgent, comprehensive and lasting ban on ivory sales” in the Special Administrative Region.
The letter applauds the government “for taking a brave step in January 2014 by committing to the destruction of 29.6 tonnes of confiscated ivory seized in Hong Kong since 1976” but states that “this bold move does not go far enough.”
Hong Kong plays a key role in the global ivory trade. The city is both a major market and transit point for smuggled ivory. This has been recognised by CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), which considers Hong Kong one of nine countries / regions of priority concern.
The current catastrophic poaching crisis, the worst since the 1980s, is resulting in the killing of tens of thousands of elephants every year for the ivory trade. Much of this ivory passes through Hong Kong illegally on the way to mainland China, where demand is surging. This demand is driven in large part by a new class of wealthy individuals, many of whom travel to Hong Kong as tourists to buy tax free luxury goods – including ivory and ivory products.
Hong Kong's retailers of ivory have recently been found to be actively undermining the conservation efforts of the Hong Kong government, international and local NGO communities, and a large segment of the Hong Kong public. Now, says the letter, people around the world who hold elephants dear to their hearts, are relying on the Hong Kong government to take a responsible stand.
“In order to put a large dent in Chinese demand for ivory and ivory products,” says the AfA, “ we believe that there is no better time than now to enact an urgent, comprehensive and lasting ban on ivory sales in Hong Kong.”
It is high time the Hong Kong government followed the American government's recent commendable example and enacted an outright ivory sales ban.
IAR Chief Executive Alan Knight says: “The killing of elephants must be stopped and Hong Kong has a central role to play. No one needs ivory products, but we need to save elephants, one of the planet's most iconic and ecologically important animals, from wanton slaughter and extinction. Banning the sale of ivory products helps to stigmatize ivory consumption, reduce demand and aid better enforcement. For the sake of the elephants and for the sake of its international reputation, I hope fervently that Hong Kong will do the right thing.”
The AfA Coalition is made up of 15 international animal welfare and conservation organisations