Hong Kong must stop being the weakest link in efforts to end the bloody ivory trade
- Elizabeth Quat says the alarming spread of elephant slaughter in Africa shows up the city's key role in keeping alive the ivory trade -
Alarming new evidence from Africa suggests that fresh areas for elephant poaching are emerging, in addition to the usual hot spots of Kenya, Tanzania and the western Congo basin. Horrific footage from Zambia of an elephant with its face sliced off, yet still breathing, arrived in my inbox recently. Viewing it redoubled my commitment to push for legislative change to phase out the ivory trade in Hong Kong.
What worries me is that the shocking footage was from a country not previously associated with elephant poaching. I have also heard that poachers are now targeting areas further away from the three main ivory trafficking ports to Asia - Mombasa, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar - closer to South Africa's Kruger National Park, a jewel of African wildlife.
... Sadly, 70 per cent of the global demand for ivory comes from China. Yet Hong Kong's penalties for ivory trafficking remain despairingly low. An ivory trafficker sitting on a tonne of raw tusks risks a six-month jail sentence if caught smuggling them through Hong Kong - or life imprisonment on the mainland if caught smuggling through Shanghai or Shenzhen. The choice is obvious.
Our city ranks fifth globally for the amount of illegal ivory seized. In order to dispel the perception among international criminal syndicates that Hong Kong is a soft touch; an easy transit hub for illegal wildlife products, our government must sharply increase the maximum penalties.
Read Elizabeth's op-ed in full at http://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/1848509/hong-kong-must-stop-being-weakest-link-efforts-end-bloody
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Image: Elizabeth Quat and Hong Kong ivory