Carved ivory products on display, China

EIA joins the call for Hong Kong to ban all ivory sales

On the eve of Hong Kong’s formal destruction today (Thursday) of about three tonnes of ivory – 10 per cent of its stockpile, the remaining 27 tonnes of which are due to be destroyed in a further dozen incinerations – EIA joined a coalition of 61 organisations to call on the Government of Hong Kong to ban all ivory sales.

The letter to Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying states: “We applaud the government for taking a brave step in January 2014 to commit to the destruction by incineration of 29.6 tonnes of confiscated elephant ivory seized in Hong Kong since 1976. However, we believe that this does not go far enough, and that more needs to be done to curb demand for ivory and effectively diminish illegal trade and elephant poaching.

“Hong Kong plays a key role in the global ivory trade. The city has been recognized as a major market and transit point for smuggled ivory 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 causing the killing of tens of thousands of elephants every year for the illegal 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.

“Some Hong Kong ivory retailers have been exposed by the media 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.

“Since this exposure, three ivory traders Chinese Arts & Crafts (Hong Kong) Ltd, Wing On Department Store and Yue Hwa Chinese Products Emporium have shown leadership in the industry and have all publicly renounced selling elephant ivory.

“Numerous reports have shown that the existing legal market for elephant and mammoth ivory is being used to launder ivory from poached elephants. Indeed, people around the world, who hold elephants dear to their hearts, depend 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 and to effectively combat the illegal trade in elephant ivory, we believe that there is no better time than now to enact an urgent, comprehensive and permanent ban on all ivory sales in Hong Kong.”

Read the letter in full, in English here and in Chinese here.