CONSERVATION

Ivory products pulled from fourth major Hong Kong retailer

North Point department store becomes fourth big retailer to stop selling elephant products

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 January, 2015, 5:05am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 January, 2015, 7:32am

Another major department store has announced it is scrapping the sale of elephant ivory products amid pressure from animal welfare activists and lawmakers.

The Chinese Goods Centre (CGCL) in North Point is the fourth major retailer to slap a ban on ivory sales within 12 months, after similar measures were implemented by Wing On, Yue Hwa and Chinese Arts & Crafts last year.

The 52-year-old department store said it had told its tenant supplier in late November to stop selling products made of ivory items listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

"We are aware that a business … should not only be about profit, it should also take on its social and environmental and conservation responsibility," CGCL director Wong Chow Kuen-kuen wrote in a letter.

The letter was a reply to pro-Beijing lawmaker Elizabeth Quat, following repeated demands from her for the store to halt ivory product sales.

Quat called the move a "good sign" as it meant most of the city's major retailers were now ivory-free.

But she said: "There must be a sales ban because the system to regulate licensed ivory traders does not work."

Quat added: "Legal and illegal ivory stocks can be sold together and the government cannot monitor any of this."

Wong could not be reached yesterday but a spokeswoman confirmed there was no longer any ivory on sale at the store. She added that the tenant had been cooperative and would have incurred "some losses" after having to take stock off the shelves. She did not say how the stocks would be dealt with.

Several ivory products, including a figurine of Chinese warrior god Guan Yu, are still listed for sale on the department store's website - which has yet to be updated.

Hong Kong for Elephants co-founder Alex Hofford said the department store had shown leadership in corporate social responsibility by removing "blood ivory" from its shelves.

In November, the group launched a three-hour protest outside the department store demanding that ivory products be removed from sale.

Hofford said with most large department stores now ivory-free, it was high time for about 100 other "mom and pop" shops throughout the city to follow suit.

The Chinese Goods Centre opened its doors in 1963 on the ground floor of Kiu Kwan Mansion. It was well-known as a major leftist stronghold during the 1967 riots, in which a 13-hour confrontation between its staff and police left seven injured. In one raid, helicopters carrying police and British troops landed on the roof of the building.

As of December, about 14.5 tonnes of confiscated ivory in the government's 30-tonne stockpile had been disposed of, according to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.

The remaining stock would continue to be incinerated in phases until the summer, a government spokesman said.