‘A Great Day For Elephants:’ Hong Kong Votes To Ban All Ivory Sales

Lawmakers in Hong Kong voted in order to ban all ivory sales within the territory on Wednesday, a proceed environmentalists hailed as a definitive determine to help curb elephant poaching.

The particular Legislative Council of Hong Kong identified 49-4 to pass the new legislation, that will end a 150-year trade within the animal product and go into impact in 2021, following a multiyear sophistication period. When instituted, all industry in ivory will be banned, shutting loopholes that previously allowed the particular sale of antique ivory obtained prior to the 1970s.

“ Today is a great time for elephants, ” Alex Hofford, the Hong Kong campaigner for the team WildAid, said in a statement. “ Hong Kong has always been the ‘ cardiovascular of darkness’ of the ivory business. ”

Hong Kong,   an autonomous special administrative region of Tiongkok, has long abided has lengthy abided by the terms of the Convention upon International Trade in Endangered Varieties, or CITES, which banned the particular international trade of ivory within 1990. Hunting trophies and vintage ivory are excluded from the the convention, unless countries impose their very own harsher laws.

Bobby Yip/Reuters
Hk has remained a hub meant for illegal ivory smuggling, where traders  often pass off new off white as antique to take advantage of lawful loopholes, environmentalists say.

Environmentalists have long warned, however , that will countries that allow trade within “ pre-convention” ivory effectively help poaching, as illegal ivory is frequently passed off as antique. So that as markets closed around the world, places such as Hong Kong have become major hubs with regard to products that are illicit elsewhere. Reuters notes that more than 90 percent of people who buy ivory within Hong Kong are from mainland Tiongkok.

Some activists have questioned exactly why Hong Kong allowed such a long elegance period for ivory traders in order to phase out their businesses.

“ Why not stop trade at once such as China did? ” Philip Muruthi, the chief scientist for the African Animals Foundation, asked in a statement. “ This kind of declaration usually leads to ‘ stockpiling’ whereby traders try to get involved as much illegal ivory as possible to enhance their stocks, so that they can make a eliminating in the name of legal offloading prior to the prohibit deadline. The advantage of an instant ban is it renders the product instantly valueless. ”

China, one of the world’ s biggest ivory markets, officially shut down its own domestic industry in the product past due last year. At the time, WildAid called the shift the “ finest single step towards reducing elephant poaching. ”

Because the country first announced it would inflict an all-encompassing ban in 2015, China has seen an eighty percent drop in illegal off white seizures at the border. The shift also prompted legal ivory costs to plummet by more than sixty-five percent in Hong Kong over the past 2 yrs, WildAid noted.

The policies symbolize a massive step forward in the fight against hippo poaching across Africa and in areas of Asia, where the animals are killed for their tusks. Environmentalists estimate over 33, 500 elephants are killed every year to help feed the need for ivory, which is seen as a position symbol in some Asian countries.

Countries which includes Thailand and Vietnam are now the biggest remaining markets for the ivory business, and officials are calling on a lot more sweeping bans to be instituted around the world.

“ This is a huge tribute towards the leadership of lawmakers and a fabulous effort by civil society groupings to push for action on this concern, ” Erik Solheim, executive movie director of the United Nations Environment Programme, stated in a statement. “ We now have to see all other countries close loopholes that still allow the illegal business of ivory to continue. ”