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  • Apr 19, 2014
  • Updated: 5:26am
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CONSERVATION

Hong Kong to destroy 28 tonnes of seized ivory after advisers endorse plan

U-turn will mean incineration of 28 tonnes of tusks, amid hopes move will send out message to rest of world on the protection of elephants

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 January, 2014, 7:33pm
UPDATED : Friday, 24 January, 2014, 9:35am

Hong Kong has boosted the fight against the illegal ivory trade by deciding to follow international examples and destroy most of its stockpile of confiscated tusks.

The move represents a U-turn from last year, when the city's advisers on endangered species refused to support a proposal to destroy the ivory by incineration.

At least 28 tonnes of ivory now held by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department will be incinerated at a chemical waste facility in Tsing Yi.

Another 1.6 tonnes would be kept for education, scientific or other purposes allowed by an international treaty, said the Endangered Species Advisory Committee, which approved the destruction yesterday. Chairman Paul Shin Kam-shing said the decision was unanimous and hoped it would set an example.

He said: "The committee calls upon countries all over the world to make concerted efforts in combating the illegal poaching of elephants and to undertake rigorous measures to protect elephants."

Alex Hofford, programme director of Hong Kong for Elephants, said: "It's great to finally see the government joining others around the world in taking the lead on this."

But he opposed the use of ivory in schools. "We don't think there is any place for ivory in the classroom ... It's like handing out bags of drugs to students to educate them about the drug trade."

Conservation officials expect the first batch to be destroyed by July and the rest within two years.

The department says the stockpile - which activists say amounts to the death of more than 10,000 elephants - has become both a security risk and a management burden. The city has also been under local and overseas pressure to join other jurisdictions - including the United States and Guangdong - and destroy the ivory.

"While it's still unclear what impact [the destruction] will have on the dynamics of ivory trafficking, there's little doubt Hong Kong's decision will send a strong message to consumers in the region that illegally sourced ivory will not be tolerated," said Tom Miliken, an expert on the ivory trade with the wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic.

Miliken says any ivory destruction event should be preceded by an independent auditing process so it is clear what ivory has been destroyed and where it originated.

"Furthermore, forensic examination of the ivory should be routine because of the valuable insights into the mode of operation of the criminals orchestrating shipments, so that ultimately they can be brought to book,” he said.

The news delighted children who had been campaigning for the ivory to be destroyed. "It is so exciting and exactly what we wanted and what we worked for," said Nellie Shute, 11.

Lucy Skrine, also 11, said: "Thanks to the committee for taking our side. It's very important that elephants can survive."

Illegal ivory sales are said to be still rampant on the mainland and Thailand, fuelling the poaching of tens of thousands of elephants a year. The value of 1kg of ivory ranges from HK$8,000 to HK$15,000.

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robert.macfarland.3
In my opinion, Hong Kong is showing great leadership with this decision, and the rest of the world will look on Hong Kong as a people of great Honor.
Hong Kong People have a tradition of Cremation of our loved ones.
To Cremate the remains of these beautiful inteligent animals is showing rpespect and honor to all peoples of the world.
I would also like to see these Creamated remains, ceremoniously Repatriated to their respecive countries. God bless Hong Kong.
likingming
Save ivory save elephant.
Save elephant save ivory.
It is not the chinese love of eating pig that makes pig extinction !
唇齒相依 齒亡唇寒
DinGao
A disappointingly predictable easy way out. I still feel that it should be turned into an indestructible sculpture in a very public place emphasising how many dead elephants it represents. This might be the best possible form of education as well as a demonstration of Hong Kong's determination to wipe out this awful trade.Destroying this stockpile, no matter how publicly, will be a one-off event, quickly forgotten.
whoaman
It will take two years???!!!! Typical HK civil service...
John Adams
Great !
Use the remainder as Paul Zimmerman proposed
1. pulverize
2. mix with resin
3. use the mixture to make a statue to commemorate the event
______________
"Conservation officials expect the first batch to be destroyed by July and the rest within two years"
Why TWO YEARS ? .
pragmatist
Thamks for being a follower. Cant believe what these guys discuss for 4 hrs. Either incompetent reporting here at scmp or too much secrecy by these govt servants.

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