Today, Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying met with a delegation of elephant conservation activists and a group of schoolchildren who hand-delivered a thank you card, commending Leung for his January 2016 policy address where he called for a phase-out of the local ivory trade, one of the world's largest.
WildAid, WWF-Hong Kong and Hong Kong lawmaker Elizabeth Quat have been leading efforts in the city to combat wildlife trafficking and to oppose the legal ivory trade. Together, we've been working in close cooperation with Hong Kong Under Secretary for the Environment Christine Loh to drive this urgent policy change. Banning the ivory trade will reduce consumer demand for ivory carvings and other products, and will have a positive impact on African elephant populations as poaching rates decline.
Yoyo Wong, a five-year-old kindergarten student from Tuen Mun who was at the informal event, said, “Chief Executive, thank you for pledging to save the elephants in Africa. I want to see elephants when I grow up, so please work faster to ban the ivory trade!”
Here's what Leung said in his January policy address:
The Government is very concerned about the illegal poaching of elephants in Africa. It will kick start legislative procedures as soon as possible to ban the import and export of elephant hunting trophies and actively explore other appropriate measures, such as enacting legislation to further ban the import and export of ivory and phase out the local ivory trade, and imposing heavier penalties on smuggling and illegal trading of endangered species. Meanwhile, the Government will strengthen enforcement and take rigorous action against the smuggling and illegal trade in ivory. (Click here for text of the full address.)
We are delighted that Chief Executive Leung joined our team in January to finally seek an end to the atrocious Hong Kong ivory trade. We urge the Hong Kong government to accelerate the implementation of the phase-out as quickly as possible by bringing forward a ban on "pre-Convention ivory" (ivory acquired prior to the international commerical ivory ban) during the current term, rather than leaving it on the calendar for the next administration. China and the United States have been taking decisive actions to shut down the trade, and Hong Kong needs to play catch up fast.
In order to help save the last remaining populations of wild elephants in Africa, WildAid is calling on the public, and all sectors of Hong Kong society, to speak up and strongly support the Hong Kong government's plans to phase out the local ivory trade in Hong Kong. We're also calling on the governments of Thailand and Japan to also ban their domestic ivory markets.