Anti-ivory-trade marchers out to save our elephants

Campaigners aim to educate Tsim Sha Tsui mainland shoppers about the cruel ivory trade

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 October, 2013, 3:53am

A group of marchers against the ivory trade took to the streets yesterday to raise awareness among mainland shoppers about the horrors of elephant poaching.

The group of about 50 campaigners, led by a dozen young people, marched around a busy stretch of luxury shops on Canton Road in Tsim Sha Tsui yesterday, at the peak of the National Day "golden week" holidays.

Hordes of cross-border tourists stopped amid their shopping and stared as the campaigners chanted "Say no to ivory".

The march came as customs officials announced on Thursday that they had seized the third haul of illegal ivory in three months. The 189 elephant tusks from Ivory Coast in West Africa could have fetched up to HK$11.5 million on the Asian black market, officials said.

The campaign in Hong Kong was part of a worldwide effort to raise people's awareness of ivory poaching and the plight of the hunted elephants.

The group took the opportunity to educate the throng of shoppers in Tsim Sha Tsui, most of whom were mainland tourists making the most of their long public holiday.

"It is a very clear message: Stop buying elephant ivory," said actress and anti-shark fin activist Sharon Kwok Sau-wan.

Describing the material being handed out to shoppers in the vicinity, Kwok said: "You see a beautiful elephant mum and her calf, very loving. It's a beautiful picture. Then you flip it over and see half its face hacked off."

When tourist Peng Tian Meng from Changchun , Jilin province, was handed the anti-poaching material, he said he agreed with the marchers' cause.

Zhang Yuwei, from Shenzhen, said: "Poachers are so cruel. They kill the rare elephants … I would like more such campaigns to be organised." The campaign was centred at the Chinese Arts and Crafts branch in Tsim Sha Tsui, where large ivory carvings adorned the store's window display.

Led by Kwok, the marchers tried to go into the store to distribute educational materials to shoppers, but security guards and retail staff barred them from entering, explaining that they were not paying customers.

A sales representative, who declined to be identified, said: "I am only a member of staff. I can't respond to your queries. My shop is busy now. We can't answer any of your questions."

She then advised reporters to make an appointment to meet the store's manager rather than to speak to her.

Young activist Christina Seigrist, 8, said she hoped the store would take heed of the marchers' message.

Seigrist earlier created an online petition with Lucy Lan Skrine, 11, which has since gathered more than 4,000 signatures.

To boost the campaign's publicity across the border, the march involved a host of celebrities, including actors Joe Ma Tak-chung and Alex Fong Lik-sun.