We, the undersigned, call on the Hong Kong Government to enact an urgent, comprehensive and lasting ban on ivory sales in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The current catastrophic poaching crisis, the worst since the 1980s, is resulting in the killing of tens of thousands of elephants every year for the ivory trade. Much of this ivory passes through Hong Kong illegally on the way to mainland China, where demand is surging. This demand is driven in large part by a new class of wealthy individuals, many of whom travel to Hong Kong to buy tax free luxury goods – including ivory and ivory products. We applaud the government for taking a brave step in committing to the destruction of 29.6 tonnes of confiscated ivory seized in Hong Kong since 1976. To stigmatize ivory consumption, reduce demand and aid better enforcement, we are now calling on the Hong Kong government to outlaw ivory sales in Hong Kong.
WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT:
Here’s a message from the petition organisers; Nellie Shute, aged 12, Lucy Skrine (柯嵐), aged 11, Christina Seigrist (孫藍慧), aged 9, Tommy Tsui (徐日彰), aged 10, and Illeana Li (李思睿), aged 9, who all live and go to school in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong plays a key role in the global ivory trade. The city is both a major market and transit point for smuggled ivory. This has been recognised by CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), which considers Hong Kong one of nine countries / regions of priority concern. (1)
Large amounts of illegal ivory are being laundered through the city’s two biggest retailers of ivory; ‘Chinese Arts & Crafts’ and ‘Yue Hwa Chinese Products Emporium’. Recent media reports suggest ivory products in branches of these two stores are being peddled to unsuspecting consumers as fake ‘old stock’ from Hong Kong’s finite legal stockpile of ivory dating to before the 1989 global ivory trade ban. (2)
Hong Kong’s role as a growing tourism hub for mainland Chinese, and the fact that ivory cannot be legally exported to mainland China or elsewhere, presents a clear conflict of interest for the city’s ivory retailers. The ivory trade in Hong Kong is an embarrassment to the city, and the players have demonstrated that they cannot operate according to the law. Staff at ‘Chinese Arts & Crafts’ have been recorded by the media admitting that their company is exporting large pieces of raw ivory out of Hong Kong to mainland China, and then re-importing it back to Hong Kong as carved ivory pieces. This is clearly in contravention of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) agreement. Appendix I-listed species are subject to strict controls and cannot be legally exported or imported in either direction.
The recent media investigation of Hong Kong’s two largest retailers of ivory also uncovered sales staff openly advocating smuggling tips on how best to traffic ivory out of Hong Kong. Sales staff at ‘Chinese Arts & Crafts’ and ‘Yue Hwa Chinese Products Emporium’ were secretly filmed promoting ‘blood ivory’ products made from ivory taken from the centre of tusks from freshly poached elephants. ‘Chinese Arts & Crafts’ was exposed peddling carved ivory products shaped like apples and painted red – a design specifically intended to evade the attention of Customs officials around the world. Other techniques included; mixing ivory chopsticks with plastic chopsticks purchased from a supermarket, or concealing ivory pieces in sports shoes, pockets and bags, or worn about the neck. For ‘Chinese Arts & Crafts’ and ‘Yue Hwa Chinese Products Emporium’ to actively encourage illegal wildlife trafficking is criminal.
All evidence points to the fact that Hong Kong’s two largest retailers of ivory are actively undermining the conservation efforts of the Hong Kong government, international and local NGO communities, and a large segment of the Hong Kong public. People around the world, who hold elephants dear to their hearts, depend on the Hong Kong government to take a responsible stand.
In order to rein in an anachronistic industry that is clearly operating outside the law, and to put a large dent in Chinese demand for ivory and ivory products, we believe that there is no better time than now to enact an urgent, comprehensive and lasting ban on ivory sales in Hong Kong. It is time for the Hong Kong government to follow the American government’s recent commendable example (11 February 2014) and enact an outright ivory sales ban. The killing of elephants must be stopped and Hong Kong has a central role to play.
No one needs ivory products, but we need to save elephants, one of the planet’s most iconic and ecologically important animals from wanton slaughter and extinction.
Please sign our petition!
If you would like to know more about the Hong Kong school kids’ campaign, please visit ‘Hong Kong for Elephants’ on Facebook or Twitter
(1) See CoP16 Doc. 53.2.2 (Rev. 1) ‘ETIS Report of TRAFFIC’ at http://cites.org/sites/default/files/eng/cop/16/doc/E-CoP16-53-02-02.pdf; and SC64 Doc.2 ‘National Ivory Action Plans’ at: http://cites.org/sites/default/files/eng/com/sc/64/E-SC64-02.pdf
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