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20:42, 31 January 2018

Hong Kong Closes Loophole in Ivory Ban, Outlawing All Sales


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Hong Kong Closes Loophole in Ivory Ban, Outlawing All Sales

Hong Kong Closes Loophole in Ivory Ban, Outlawing All Sales

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HONG KONG — Hong Kong’s legislature voted on Wednesday to ban all ivory sales by 2021, closing what activists referred to as a major loophole in the worldwide work to end the trade and protect elephants from poaching.

The ivory trade has been banned in most of the world considering that 1990 under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or Cites, which Hong Kong and all but a handful of nations have agreed to honor. But the sale of antique ivory acquired ahead of the 1970s had remained legal right here. Elephant tusks and ivory statues, carvings and chopsticks are nonetheless sold in Hong Kong’s antique stores.

City officials initially stated that permitting the sale of antique ivory would give local traders time to liquidate their stocks and uncover a new line of function.

But fresh ivory has continued to make its way into Hong Kong. In July, for example, 7.two tons of elephant tusks were identified concealed below frozen fish in a shipment from Malaysia. Activists and lawmakers cite such incidents as proof that the ivory trade has profited from the Hong Kong loophole, with traders making an incentive for poaching by promoting new ivory amongst antiques.

“Today is a excellent day for elephants,” Alex Hofford, a campaigner with WildAid Hong Kong, mentioned in a statement following the city’s Legislative Council voted 49-4 to phase out antique ivory sales. “With great assistance from the Hong Kong people, our five-year campaign has ultimately paid off.”

Regardless of the higher volume of ivory that passes via the city, most Hong Kong residents do not consider it need to be sold, polls have indicated. In a survey conducted by WildAid and Hong Kong University in 2014, 96 percent of respondents said they had by no means bought ivory and 71 percent supported banning ivory sales in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong customs officials seized 7.two tons of elephant tusks in July that had been concealed under a shipment of frozen fish from Malaysia.CreditAlex Hofford/European Pressphoto Agency

Opponents of the ban argue that the trade should be preserved for its artistic and historical significance. Some lawmakers have recommended that the government should buy out ivory traders’ stock and show it in a museum, or that traders should be compensated in some other way.

“To count on ivory traders in their 60s to alter industries is impractical,” a single lawmaker, Peter Shiu, said Wednesday. “Do you anticipate them to take on-line courses?”

But other lawmakers pointed out that Hong Kong’s traders have had practically 30 years to get out of the enterprise considering that the global ban went into effect, and noted that they would have till the end of 2021 to do so under the new law. And they opposed the concept of compensation.

“Providing any kind of compensation will signal that Hong Kong is buying ivory, which will likely trigger a surge in poaching,” said an additional lawmaker, Ted Hui.

Wildlife advocacy groups say tens of thousands of African elephants are killed for their tusks every single year.

China has historically been a significant center of demand for ivory, but it banned all sales at the finish of December, following a partial ban and a public awareness campaign. Chinese state media said final month that the price tag of raw ivory had fallen by 65 percent.

Activists have been concerned that China’s moves against ivory had caused a surge in demand in Hong Kong. A third of licensed traders have encouraged buyers to smuggle ivory out of the city, according to a report released final year.

The efficacy of China’s ban depends on cutting off access to ivory in Hong Kong as nicely, lawmakers and activists stated. “Hong Kong is one of the final havens for smugglers to conduct their activities with impunity,” Mr. Hui mentioned.

Adhere to Tiffany May on Twitter: @nytmay.

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Published at Wed, 31 Jan 2018 13:32:12 +0000


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