According to the Guardian, the new measure was implemented “amid accusations that authorities were lagging behind China in phasing out the market.”
As previously reported by WAN, the Chinese government announced at the end of last year its plans to put an end to the ivory trade within a one year period; with legal ivory markets to be phased out by March 31, 2017 and China’s legal commercial ivory ban to be initiated by December 31, 2017.
The move to amend Hong Kong’s law was introduced for government review in mid-June “as what has been described as a conscious effort to ‘eradicate’ illegal poaching of elephants across Africa and Asia.”
While under consideration, wildlife Ranger Eric Marary, manager of Congo’s Garamba National Park who was shot last year while working also presented to the legislatures the human cost of ivory.
“The truth is that people are being killed… People are seeing their families being destroyed because of the trade,” Marary told Radio television of Hong Kong (RTHK) as reported by the Guardian. “Five years will be at least 500 rangers killed on the frontline. Are we happy to sacrifice 500 Rangers for people to be able to sell off a few tons of ivory?”
Another powerful perspective! So many innocent lives lost, both animal and human, for an undeniably senseless reason.
As per National Geographic, the multi-year plan runs through the end of 2021 giving traders a sufficient amount of time to dissolve their stock of legally obtained ivory.
It further notes that the plan suggests traders should not receive any compensation for liquidating their ivory because it represents a small percentage of the traders business, as well as the fact that they are afforded generous grace to take the necessary actions to close down the ivory trade by its confirmed deadline. A potential penalty increase is also under consideration.
“The Hong Kong government has listened to the people and legislators,” Cheryl Lo of WWF-Hong Kong said as noted in the National Geographic article. “It sends a message to traders that there is an absolute end to the ivory trade.”
Hong Kong reportedly has the largest retail ivory market, with more items for sale than anywhere else in the world. The majority of the buyers smuggle the ivory to mainland China.
Sadly, according to a recent report by Traffic, many of the licensed ivory dealers encourage the illegal activity by offering buyers advice and suggestions on ways in which they can smuggle ivory out of the city.
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