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Friday, June 24, 2016, 22:00

New plan aims to end local ivory trade

By Sylvia Chang

HONG KONG - The government recently proposed a three-phase plan to phase out the local ivory trade in order to achieve a total ban by the end of 2021.

The proposal, which will be discussed in the Legislative Council next Monday, intends to amend the city’s bill on the protection of endangered species. The government aims to draft a revised bill and put it to LegCo in the first half of 2017.

The first step of the plan is to ban the import and re-export of hunting trophies and certain ivory carving. The revised bill, if enacted, will take effect immediately after this, the government documents emphasize.

The second step will ban the import and re-export of pre-convention ivory. This is ivory in circulation before 1975 - when a convention on regulating the global ivory trade came into effect. This step will also control the license of the pre-convention ivory in the local market. This step will take effect three months after enactment of the revised bill.

The third step will achieve the total ban of almost all ivory sales in the local market.

Considering the three steps as a “grace period” for ivory traders to sell their ivory, the government said it will not consider compensating any losses of the traders.

The World Wide Fund for Nature Hong Kong (WWF-HK), a conservation group on elephant protection, welcomed the government’s determination on a full closure of the local ivory trade. Meanwhile, it believed that the local trade can actually end sooner, within two years, based on their legal research report.

Hong Kong should be an example for other places by ending illegal ivory trade and smuggling, said Cheryl Lo, senior wildlife crime officer of WWF-HK. “Every year more than 30,000 elephants are killed. We should end the trade as soon as possible,” she added.

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