Hong Kong Burns First Tranche of Ivory Stockpiles

Hong Kong Burns First Tranche of Ivory Stockpiles
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Cape Town, South Africa

Today (15 May 2014) Hong Kong will destroy the first tranche of its 30 tonne stockpile of illegal ivory, with the rest to go up in smoke within the next two years.

The ivory will be incinerated at the Chemical Waste Treatment Center in Tsing Yi.  Attending the high profile event will be dignitaries from the Chinese government, CITES Secretariat, conservationists and the media.

“When Hong Kong - a main transit point for illegal ivory into mainland China - destroys its stockpiles, it means that the government will not tolerate ivory smuggling and illegal ivory trade. Destroying stockpiles also sends a strong message to consumers that because ivory comes from dead elephants and the cruel practice of poaching those elephants, the very existence of the ivory trade is wrong.” says Grace Ge Gabriel, Asia Regional Director of IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org).

Coincidentally, the event follows just days after Cambodia said on Friday (9 May 2014), that it had confiscated a record three tonnes of illicit ivory concealed in a container of beans at the port of Sihanoukville. Authorities declined to say where the ivory had been shipped from, or its intended final destination.

“The confiscation of such an enormous amount of ivory by Cambodia starkly emphasizes the extent of the problem, and why today’s ivory burn is so significant,” says Grace Ge Gabriel, Asia Regional Director of IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org).

Last weekend, while on a State visit to Kenya, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang offered China’s support for efforts to combat rampant poaching of elephants and rhino, including reaching an agreement to fund the provision of equipment for anti-poaching teams.

Most illegal ivory is destined for Asia, in particular China, where it has soared in value as an investment vehicle and is coveted as “white gold”. Limited availability of legal ivory in China purchased form the stockpile sale in southern Africa in 2008 has, in turn, boosted demand encouraging illegal ivory trade and the poaching of elephant to meet market needs.

In destroying its ivory stockpiles, Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region of China, joins Kenya, Gabon, the Philippines, US, France and Belgium which have already crushed or burned ivory stockpiles. In January mainland China also crushed 6,1 tonnes of illegal ivory.

Up to 50,000 elephants a year are killed by poachers for their ivory. The illegal wildlife trade generates an estimated US$19-billion a year, ranking fourth on the list of the most lucrative illegal activities in the world behind drugs, counterfeiting and human trafficking.

“More than 41 tonnes of contraband ivory was seized in 2013 – the largest amount in 25 years – with large scale seizures (those weighing more than 800 kgs) the norm rather than the exception,” said Ge Gabriel.

Ge Gabriel said public demand to stop the slaughter of elephants and rampant ivory smuggling had pressured world leaders into taking action to save elephants.

“Every link on this trade chain - from elephant poaching to ivory trafficking to consumer demand for ivory trinkets - is stained with the blood of elephants and the rangers that protect them. If we are to save elephants we need to address every link in the ivory chain. That means stopping the killing, stopping the trafficking and stopping the demand”.

Ends

About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Experts

Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Dr. Cynthia Moss, IFAW Elephant Expert
IFAW Elephant Expert
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
James Isiche, Regional Director, East Africa
Regional Director, East Africa
Jason Bell, Program Director, Elephants Regional Director, South Africa
Program Director, Elephants, Regional Director, South Africa
Peter Pueschel, Director, International Environmental Agreements
Director, International Environmental Agreements
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Regional Director, South Asia