Ivory trade ban in Hong Kong

Hong Kong opened the year by bringing into force a ban on the “import, re-export and commercial possession of elephant ivory”. The ban is a major victory for conservationists in the city, in Africa and elsewhere, who have long pressured the government to end the trade. 
Failure to comply could mean 10 years in prison and fines of HKD10 million (US$1.3 million). Trade in antique artefacts dating from before 1925 is exempted.
Hong Kong is renowned for its outsized presence in the global ivory trade. As recently as 2015, customs there were making as many as 200 seizures of illegally poached ivory per year.
The ban is widely supported by Hong Kong citizens according to a WildAid survey, which found 76% of people in favour. The final buyers of much of the ivory that moves through Hong Kong are based outside the region, including mainland China, while US, EU and Japan also have significant markets. Mainland China implemented a ban on the domestic ivory trade at the end of 2017.
The population of elephants in Africa is in a state of collapse. According to IUCN data, forest elephant numbers have fallen by more than 86% since 1990, with savanna elephants dropping by 60% since 1970. Last year, the IUCN upgraded the forest elephant’s designation to critically endangered. Poaching and habitat loss are the key drivers of population loss.
Read our interview with an expert who helps China’s customs authorities identify smuggled animal parts.