This month, WildAid rolls out its first ever large scale public awareness campaign in Hong Kong on a fleet of about 80 double decker buses. The faces of Chinese celebrities Yao Ming, Li Bingbing, Lang Lang as well as Thai actor Tony Jaa can currently be seen carrying the ‘Ivory Free’ message to the Hong Kong public. The Kowloon Motor Bus Company buses also urge support for an ivory ban proposed by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.
Peter Knights, CEO, WildAid said “Hong Kong has been the epicenter of the trade with most of the ivory being sold to be smuggled into Mainland China. We need to ensure that the government’s good intentions are implemented swiftly. Already the price of ivory is plummeting and is starting to bring much needed relief to Africa’s beleaguered elephants with poaching reported to have declined in 2015, although levels still threaten many elephant populations.”
In recent months President Xi Jinping committed to ending the ivory trade. A report by Save the Elephants suggested the price of ivory on the mainland has dropped by 50% in 18 months. Anecdotal evidence from ivory traders in Hong Kong show an even further dramatic decline from a high of more than US$1,500 to US$385 (HK$3,000) per kilo for raw elephant ivory.
Hong Kong lawmaker Elizabeth Quat is also featured in the bus advertising campaign. Quat has been instrumental in forging an unprecedented bipartisan consensus in Hong Kong's Legislative Council to ban ivory trade as well as to reform wildlife laws and crack down on smuggling activities in the city's rampant parallel legal and illegal wildlife trades.
Legco member Quat said, “In LegCo we lawmakers have proved that saving elephants is not a political issue. In December last year, we stood 100% united on this vital issue. Banning the ivory trade to protect elephants makes plain common sense for all humanity, and so I am calling on everyone in Hong Kong – from all walks of life, both young and old, rich and poor – to get behind this important issue. Please support the Hong Kong government in its laudable efforts to safeguard our planet's common heritage, and protect Sino-African relations and the livelihoods of the large number of Africans who depend on the wildlife tourism sector.”
WildAid applauds the Hong Kong government for taking a more active role in strengthening enforcement and for kick-starting the legislative process to ban the import and export of elephant hunting trophies this year, as well as actively exploring strategies and measures to further combat illegal trade in ivory, including enacting legislation to phase out the local ivory trade and impose heavier penalties on smuggling and illegal trading in endangered species.
The billboards are sponsored by WildAid and the Energy Saving and Environment Concern Alliance.