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Pressure Mounts for Hong Kong to Ban Ivory Trade

With the United States and China making public commitments to halt the ivory trade, pressure is mounting fast for Hong Kong to do the same. 

Due to its high overall trade volumes, easy access to mainland China, and lax regulation and supervision, Hong Kong is a global hub for the ivory trade. Licensed vendors can legally sell ivory obtained prior to the 1989 international ban on the commercial ivory trade. But the "legal" market is replenshing its original stock with ivory from recently poached elephants.

Two hard-hitting reports out Wednesday uncover this illicit trade that is fuelling the elephant poaching epidemic in Africa. The Washington Post reports that while American and Chinese pledges to enact near-complete bans is historic, the "spotlight is turning to Hong Kong."

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Prince William Gives Historic Wildlife Address to the Chinese People

In a historic address to the Chinese people, the Duke of Cambridge (Prince William) has urged China "to turn the tide of extinction" and reject the illegal wildlife trade that's driving the slaughter of endangered species.  

"I am absolutely convinced that China can become a global leader in the protection of wildlife," Prince William said Monday in remarks to be broadcast on Chinese state TV channel CCTV1. "Your influence in the world means you can change the face of conservation in this century. This will be a contribution that would go down in history, one that your great grandchildren would speak of with great pride."

The address coincides with this week's official state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who will be a guest of Buckingham Palace for four days. "[W]e have seen a groundswell of action by governments to improve their laws and to work across borders to fight the traffickers," Prince William said. "Only last month, President Xi announced that China would take steps to halt the domestic trade in ivory, adding to the ban on ivory carving imports he announced in February. But we know the illegal wildlife trade cannot be solved by governments alone. The spotlight falls back on all of us, and on the choices we have to make to play our parts in addressing this problem."

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US and China Agree to Halt Ivory Trade

WASHINGTON (Sept. 25, 2015) — In a historic accord to save Africa’s elephants from rempant poaching, President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping agreed Friday to ban ivory sales in the United States and China.

The announcement marks the first public commitment by President Xi to end ivory sales in China, the world’s largest market, and follows a pledge made by Chinese officials in May to phase out the domestic trade. It also puts heavy pressure on Hong Kong, a global hub for commercial ivory, to ban its legal trade — one that has provided cover for smuggling and illicit sales of ivory from African elephants poached in recent years.

A White House fact sheet released Friday confirms the agreement, full text below:  

Wildlife Trafficking: The United States and China, recognizing the importance and urgency of combating wildlife trafficking, commit to take positive measures to address this global challenge. The United States and China commit to enact nearly complete bans on ivory import and export, including significant and timely restrictions on the import of ivory as hunting trophies, and to take significant and timely steps to halt the domestic commercial trade of ivory.  The two sides decided to further cooperate in joint training, technical exchanges, information sharing, and public education on combating wildlife trafficking, and enhance international law enforcement cooperation in this field. The United States and China decided to cooperate with other nations in a comprehensive effort to combat wildlife trafficking. 

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'Saving Africa's Giants with Yao Ming' Nominated for an Emmy Award

We're thrilled to announce that Saving Africa's Giants with Yao Ming has been nominated for a News & Documentary Emmy Award!

This one-hour special that premiered in November on Animal Planet was nominated for Outstanding Nature Programming alongside PBS — for Ireland's Wild River, Snow Monkeys and Touching the Wild — and National Geographic Wild, for Wild Hawaii. WildAid CEO Peter Knights and Animal Planet's Erin Wanner share executive producer credits on the film. 

Yao Ming has been one of WildAid's most influential ambassadors for nearly a decade. In Saving Africa's Giants, WildAid and Yao joined forces and traveled to Africa to educate consumers about the perilous state of rhinos and elephants. The film is narrated by Edward Norton and features the work of WildAid, African Wildlife Foundation, Save the Elephants, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Daphne Sheldrick and The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Dr. Will Fowlds, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Tusk Trust, Kenya Wildlife Service and South African National Parks.

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Hong Kong: World’s Ivory Sales Capital

Hong Kong's ivory market is booming thanks to an influx of tourists seeking luxury items — and that's impeding international efforts to end Africa’s elephant poaching crisis, according to a new report released Wednesday by Save the Elephants.

A survey of 72 Hong Kong retail outlets found nearly 31,000 ivory items displayed for sale, with jewelry the most popular item followed by figurines. Vendors estimated that 90% of customers were tourists from mainland China. 

“No other city surveyed has so many pieces of ivory on sale as Hong Kong,” report co-author Esmond Martin said in a statement. “With higher taxes on the mainland, Hong Kong has become a cheaper place to buy ivory. With 40 million people crossing the border between the territories every year and controls lax, there’s little chance of their getting caught.”

Licensed vendors can legally sell ivory products obtained prior to 1990 when an international ban on ivory imports went into effect. But the city's licensing system has been roundly condemned as ineffective, allowing for the sale of illegal ivory from recently poached elephants.  

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