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Ivory Trade: Hong Kong will work towards banning the sales

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(Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 12: Illegal Elephant ivory is displayed in a cabinet at an 'Endangered Species' exhibition at London Zoo on September 12, 2011 in London, England. The exhibition is organised by 'Operation Charm', a Metropolitan Police partnership aimed at tackling the illegal trade in endangered wildlife and runs for one month at London Zoo. Items include a 10 week old stuffed Tiger cub, the tooth of a sperm whale, Ivory carvings, and a stuffed Tiger.Specimens In The Metropolitan Police's Illegal Trade In Endangered Species Exhibition
January 18
10:33 PM 2016

Hong Kong is determined to stop ivory trade in the region. The authorities will ban import and export of ivory, "as soon as possible", as stated by the city's leader Chief Executive Leung Chun-Ying to lawmakers.

According to International Business Times, Hong Kong has the world's largest retail market for elephant ivory. Ivory is mainly used for traditional medicine and ornaments. It's also been reported that until now, ivories are smuggled around the borders of Hong Kong, with mainland Chinese visitors as main buyers.

The Guardian reports that Hong Kong has been heavily criticized by activists and environmentalists for tolerating the ivory trades for so long. The illegal trade of ivory in Hong Kong is also said led to the spread of elephant poaching on Africa. Most of the order for poaching in Africa is reported come from Hong Kong. In 2013, ivory seizures in Hong Kong peaked at 8,041 kg.

In his statement at the Legislative Council on Wednesday, Leung said that Hong Kong authority is very concerned about the illegal poaching of elephants happening in Africa. So they will start to ban both import and export of ivory to the city.

This move is highly praised and hailed by activists and environmentalists. Some activists even regarded this as a historic move made by Hong Kong. "We're absolutely delighted, this is a fantastic news," said WildAid Hong Kong's Alex Hofford to CNN. WildAid has been campaigning against ivory trade in Hong Kong for a long time.

Activists and lawmakers also encouraged and urged the government to execute this plan without delay. They demanded that the government set a reasonable deadline to start implementing the new policy.
The chief did not specifically state when and how he will do it, but he did said that it would be taken care of "as soon as possible". Also, he said that ministers will "actively explore other appropriate measures" to achieve the goal.

A similar move has been made priorly by China and the United States in recent years. President Xi Jinping and Barack Obama to ban ivory sales in both the country. Meanwhile, international elephant ivory trade was already outlawed quite some time ago in 1989.

Among the NGOs and environmental communities that show support to this commitment is World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Hong Kong. Conservation director Gavin Edwards said that this decision is a significant step toward the end of Hong Kong's ivory trade. He also added that the question is not whether the ban is needed, but how to accomplish it. 

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