Force licence holders to prove their ivory is legal in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 March, 2016, 5:21pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 March, 2016, 5:21pm

I appreciate that it is likely to take some time to have legislation passed to issue a complete ban on the trade in ivory in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, elephants continue to be slaughtered for their ivory while licence holders make the most of the delay to their inevitable demise.

In recent weeks, I have visited two areas largely for tourists – Stanley Market and The Peak Galleria.

In both places, shops were to be found selling ivory. Yes, they had the relevant licences and, yes, they stated that the ivory was not for export (as exporting any ivory, no matter the size, is illegal) but who are they kidding when they are operating in tourist areas with pieces small enough to hide well in any type of luggage?

In both cases, the shopkeepers didn’t care a jot that elephants need to be killed for them to continue their trade and the defensive attitude is that they have to make a living. True, but there are many other things to sell to tourists that do not result in the extinction of a species.

Until such time as the ivory ban comes into effect, perhaps the government might consider enforcing the law regarding licences more strictly in requiring licence holders to prove their ivory is legal in Hong Kong rather than the government having to prove it is not?

After all, an annual vehicle examination for a car requires the owner to prove it is roadworthy rather than the government to prove it is not. Is there a difference?

Of course, the only real way to stop the poaching is to stop the demand, but while this education process continues, the government can assist by making it harder to fuel the demand.

Colin Dawson, The Elephant Society