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Hong Kong ban on ivory sales finally comes into effect

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Hong Kong has been accused of playing an oversized role in the ivory industry. 

A ban on selling most ivory products in Hong Kong came into effect Friday, the culmination of a three-year process to eliminate the once rampant trade in the city.

Hong Kong lawmakers in 2018 backed a bill opting for a gradual phasing out of the trade — a move some conservationists at the time criticised as a loophole that could be exploited.  

The city has been accused of playing an oversized role in the industry, with one 2019 report by a local conservation group saying it accounted for around a fifth of all global ivory seizures in the last decade

Friday’s new rules ban the “import, re-export, and commercial possession of elephant ivory”, but make an exception for antique pieces dating from before 1925.

Offenders could face a maximum fine of HK$10 million ($1.3 million) and 10 years’ imprisonment.

With its busy port and other transport links, Hong Kong had thrived as a major transit point for illegal trade in parts of endangered animals like elephants, rhinos and pangolins — most of it headed for consumers in mainland China.

 

​Hong Kong authorities in 2017 made their biggest ivory bust in three decades, with the haul of 7.2 tonnes of tusks valued at around $9 million.

Authorities seized another 2.1 tonnes in 2019 — after the phasing-out process had begun.

African ivory was a sought-after status symbol in China and used to fetch as much as $1,100 a kilogram ($500 a pound).

China’s own ban on the ivory trade has been in force since 2018.

A spokesman for Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said the government was “committed to the protection of endangered species, including elephants”.

In August, Hong Kong passed a law that classified wildlife trafficking as an organised crime issue.

Original article: https://www.citizen.co.za/news/news-world/2950531/hong-kong-ban-on-ivory-sales-finally-comes-into-effect/

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