- Posted by Nelson Tumwesigye
- On May 30, 2014
- 0 Comments
This month, Hong Kong held the first of a prospected series of ivory burns that will culminate in the destruction of its record-breaking 29.6 metric ton stockpile, making it the world’s largest ivory burn. As one of the destination points and transit hubs for illegal ivory, Hong Kong is signaling with the May 14th burn that ivory is more valuable on living elephants than as trinkets and decorative carvings.
“Too frequently we see news stories about tons of ivory being seized in Hong Kong,” says Chris Lee, AWF’s trustee and Hong Kong native. “It’s a constant, grisly reminder of just how many elephants are being killed in the name of ivory worship. I am glad to see Hong Kong taking such a strong stance and raising awareness,” he added.
Three wildlife conservation bodies operating in Africa and Asia hailed the May 29th ivory burn in Hong Kong as a moral, and necessary step in stumbling the ongoing slaughter of Africa’s elephants. African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), Wild Aid, and Save the Elephants supported Hong Kong’s decision to destroy its ivory stockpile and condemned the illegal ivory trade acknowledging that the demand for ivory is the primary driver for elephant poaching in Africa.
“It’s time we all recognized that a rather grotesque desire for an animal’s teeth is resulting in the near-extinction of elephants half a world away,” said Dr. Patrick Bergin, CEO of African Wildlife Foundation. “The message behind Hong Kong’s ivory burn is clear: The illicit ivory market must be and will be shut down for good. Anything less will be not only ecologically devastating for many of Africa’s landscapes but also, simply, morally unconscionable,” he added.
About 33 metric tons of illegal ivory have been seized in Hong Kong since 2003, according to a new study by TRAFFIC which monitors illegal wildlife trafficking. More recently, major retailers in Hong Kong have been taking the bull by its horns by halting sales of ivory within their stores.
“Hong Kong is demonstrating the conviction needed to end the ivory trade,” said Peter Knights, executive director of Wild Aid. “We hope more governments and consumers will follow the Hong Kong example and act to reduce demand for ivory and join us in educating consumers,” he noted.
A survey conducted by African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), Wild Aid, and Save the Elephants discovered that consumers say no to ivory after learning that elephants must be killed to obtain their tusks. The three NGOs are currently running a celebrity-based public awareness campaign in Asia to educate ivory consumers about the impact of the trade.
Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton, CEO of Save the Elephants was quoted remarking that excess demand for ivory is the root cause of the elephant poaching crisis and that all other efforts to stop the killing of elephants will be in vain if the world doesn’t stop buying ivory.
According to Chris Lee, an AWF trustee and a native of Hong Kong, Hong Kong’s leadership could save Africa’s Elephants. He remarks that it’s impossible for the Hong Kong citizens to turn a blind eye to what is happening in Africa. Hong Kong has been hailed for her strong stance to cub the illegal ivory trade as more tons of ivory continue to be seized.
Not more than 1000 elephants remain in the wilderness of Africa according to AWF statistics and these are at a great danger if the illegal trade of ivory is not vigorously fought. Almost each day an elephant is killed in Africa and this has raised fear that this great majestic creature would follow suit of the ancient world dinosaur.