Hong Kong is set to implement an outright ban on the trade of ivory in the city.
The news was announced by the territory’s Chief Executive, Leung Chun-ying, during his 2016 policy address.
According to National Geographic, he said that the government will “kick-start legislative procedures as soon as possible to ban the import and export of elephant hunting trophies”.
The import and export of ivory within Hong Kong is already illegal, but the exploitation of licensing which allowed roughly 400 traders to sell ivory products that predate 1989, kept the illegal trade alive.
The practice was so common that Hong Kong became known as the global hub for the illegal purchase of ivory.
Alex Hofford of WildAid Hong Kong told CNN:
Hong Kong has always been the dark heart of the ivory trade. This is where you place an order for poaching in Africa. Wildlife kingpins have been using Hong Kong as a soft touch for a long time.
There has been growing pressure for the city to take action to stamp out the trade, which causes the illegal deaths of thousands of elephants every year, and according to National Geographic a survey conducted by the University of Hong Kong showed 75 per cent of citizens support the ban.
Elizabeth Quat brought put forward a motion to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council which led to its debate six weeks ago. The motion received unanimous support to ban the ivory trade, and Quat has hailed the latest news.
She told National Geographic:
I think my successful motion debate on wildlife smuggling and banning ivory trade here really gave them the confidence to push ahead with future legislative efforts to bring our city’s laws in line with the growing international movement to protect elephants, and other endangered species of wildlife.
Well, it is about time.