Hong Kong Votes to Close Ivory Market

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The African Wildlife Foundation commends Hong Kong lawmakers for voting to ban trade in ivory by the end of 2021. We applaud the government for passing stricter penalties for trafficking of ivory and endangered species. This is a bold step to curb black-market sales.

The ban comes in the wake of mounting international criticism of the trade with public support for sweeping policy changes that has seen China ban its trade in ivory, and forced major retailers to ban wildlife products from their platforms.

"We applaud Hong Kong for making the right decision for African elephants," said AWF President Kaddu Sebunya. "This is great news for elephants coming after China closed its domestic ivory market on December 31, 2017. We call on the institutions responsible to ensure that the grace period given doesn’t become a period for stockpiling and that laws are quickly strengthened to address any gaps for smuggling wildlife products."

AWF Chief Scientist Dr. Philip Muruthi said the decision “will not only help secure the species but also allow elephant range states to benefit from conservation."

However, Dr. Muruthi warned that the four-year grace period given to traders to phase out their ivory stocks was too long and could increase the possibility of illegal ivory trade. “Why not stop trade at once like China did? This kind of declaration usually leads to ‘stockpiling’ whereby traders try to get in as much illegal ivory as possible to boost their stocks so that they can make a killing in the name of legal offloading prior to the ban deadline," he said. "The advantage of an instant ban is that it renders the product instantly valueless."

The decision by Hong Kong now leaves Vietnam and Thailand as the most active markets for trade in ivory and other endangered wildlife products. AWF urges these countries and others to follow suit and calls for continued global action to end the ivory trade once and for all.