The Hong Kong government announced on Wednesday 12th of December a proposal of a three-step plan to prepare for a total ban of local ivory trade by 2021.
In order to make this happen, the Hong Kong government is proposing a plan for the preparation of amendments to the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance in a single legislative exercise.
Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing said, “Hong Kong is determined to stem illegal ivory trade. Our goal is to completely eliminate local ivory trade by the end of 2021,” Wong said, adding it is necessary for the government to take these measures in view of the latest trend of ivory smuggling and worldwide calls for closing down of ivory trade.
Step one of the plan is to immediately ban the import and re-export of all elephant hunting trophies and those remaining post-Convention ivory.
Step two is to ban the import and re-export of pre-Convention ivory and subject pre-Convention ivory in the local market to licensing control three months after the ban in step one.
Step three is to ban the possession for commercial purposes of all ivory which will take effect on Dec. 31, 2021 after a period of approx five years.
The measures to be implemented in steps two and three will not be applicable to antique ivory.
To prepare for the total ban of local ivory trade in step three, all the Licences to possess ivory after December 31, 2016 will expire on or before Dec. 30, 2021.
The government will also increase the penalties, which will include maximum penalties for both commercial and non-commercial ivory possession and trading offences.
Elephant numbers have dropped by 62% over the last decade, and they could be mostly extinct by the end of the next decade. An estimated 100 African elephants are killed each day by poachers seeking ivory, meat and body parts, leaving only 400,000 remaining.
Many conservationists and charitable organisations have stated that the ongoing trade in domestic ivory and antique ivory creates a means to launder new illegally poached ivory into the system so this news has been eagerly accepted.
President of The Born Free Foundation Will Travers states –
“It seems somewhat churlish to be critical of Hong Kong ‘s announcement that it will close all domestic ivory trade by the end of 2021 when our own United Kingdom government has been so lame on the issue and has failed for 6 years to make good its Manifesto promise to end the trade in ivory. So, having fought the ivory trade with the Born Free Foundation since 1989, and for much of the last 28 years regarded China as one of the countries responsible for stimulating the illegal ivory trade, perpetuating the legal international ivory trade, and being, at least in part, responsible for the wave of poaching that has devastated Africa’s wild elephants since 2008, to see China taking a leading global role in seeking to end the ivory trade and supporting measures to protect elephants is a revelation.”
He goes on to say:
“However, to wait 5 years to bring the curtain down on Hong Kong’s domestic ivory sales is far, far too long. Elephants are being poached at the rate of up to 30,000 individuals a year and the survivors cannot wait 5 years, or even 5 months. Ivory markets in China, Hong Kong, Europe, Russia, the United States – and, of course, the United Kingdom – must be closed as a matter of the utmost urgency. Tomorrow would not be a moment too soon…”
Source: Global Times