'Elephant angels' take up crusade to destroy Hong Kong tusk stockpile

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 September, 2013, 2:50am

Two young girls are leading a renewed call for Hong Kong to destroy its massive stockpile of illegally poached elephant tusks.

Their petition has attracted hundreds of supporters in just a few days.

Lucy Skrine, 11, and Christina Seigrist, eight, started an online petition last Monday, urging the government to incinerate the estimated 16 tonnes of ivory.

More than 1,000 people from across the globe have signed up so far. Its organisers aim to collect 10,000 signatures.

The girls are being supported by a newly formed Hong Kong for Elephants group, which has dubbed them "elephant angels".

The group brings together local and international NGOs such as Green Sense, Ace Foundation, and the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Lucy said the government was failing to address an issue that was gaining worldwide attention.

"Can you imagine how many elephants died for that huge pile of tusks cluttering up our customs warehouses," the petition asks.

Plans to burn the growing stockpile were shelved earlier this year after members of the endangered species advisory committee rejected the proposal.

This decision contradicted recommendations by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, which found incineration was an effective way to destroy the ivory after a successful trial at Tsing Yi last March.

Christina, the great-great-granddaughter of revolutionary Dr Sun Yat-sen, said burning the ivory would ensure it did not get into the wrong hands and send a powerful message to poachers.

She was in Tsim Sha Tsui recently and saw a group of people crowded around a shop window displaying a carved ivory tusk.

"I was really mad," she said, adding that buying ivory was immoral.

"Elephants are one of my favourite animals but humans are ruining their lives," Christina said. "They have a right to live."

The petition also calls on Beijing to ban the domestic ivory trade, to shut shops selling ivory products and to close the 37 state-owned ivory carving factories.