Hong Kong to introduce measures to fight ivory poaching

Daniel Chan, 70, managing director of a carving and jewellery factory, poses in between mammoth tusks inside his factory in Hong Kong (23 October 2015) Image copyright Reuters
Image caption It is still legal to buy and sell ivory in Hong Kong

Hong Kong will introduce tougher legislation to tackle ivory poaching from elephants in Africa, Chief Executive CY Leung has said.

Mr Leung said Hong Kong would ban the import and export of elephant hunting trophies and impose tighter restrictions on ivory sales.

In addition there will be heavier penalties for smuggling offences.

Hong Kong is often called the centre of global wildlife trafficking where it is still legal to buy and sell ivory.

"The government is very concerned about illegal poaching of elephants in Africa," Mr Leung said.

"It will kick start [the] legislative procedures as soon as possible.

"It will strengthen enforcement and take rigorous action against the smuggling and illegal trade in ivory."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Leung did not say when exactly the new measures would be implemented

Mr Leung did not say when the measures would be implemented. But his announcement was welcomed by wildlife groups.

"History has shown that legal ivory sales only serve to provide a cover for illegal trade, which fuels the rampant poaching we see across Africa," WildAid Chief Executive Officer Peter Knights said.

"Hong Kong has always been the epicentre of that trade, so we congratulate CY Leung and the government for this historic step.

"Coupled with a 50% drop in ivory prices in China over the last 18 months, the end of the crisis may be in sight."

Hong Kong has some of the busiest container terminals and airports in the world and regularly seizes illegal shipments of ivory, which reached a record 8,041 kg in 2013.

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