Elephants are in turmoil because they’re subjected to illegal poaching so often for their valuable ivory tusks, but soon they might be able to live in peace as Hong Kong has finally submitted plans for a ban on ivory trade in the region.
Image Credit: tonyo_au/Pixabay
The five-year plan was originally announced last year, and this meant that it was expected to kick into full swing by 2021. This little fact remains, which means there are still a few more years to go before ivory trade is fully outlawed in Hong Kong.
Nevertheless, it’s progress. Elephant numbers have been dwindling in the face of illegal poaching, as some parts of Asia consider ivory to be a main ingredient in medicines as well as a status figure when used as building material for keepsake items for the wealthy.
In addition to shrinking populations, an increasing number of elephants are being born without ivory tusks, a potential natural selection-in-progress as the elephants attempt to survive despite poaching.
Ivory trade is banned internationally, so Hong Kong’s slow but effective ban will help pressure ivory traders to drop their demand for the stuff. We should see fewer poached elephants in Africa as a result of the sudden drop in demand.
The new plan includes new, harsher punishments for the possession of illegally-acquired ivory, a close for the loophole that has been over-used by traders to replenish sold ivory stockpiles, and an official deadline for when the new laws will take effect.
Ivory traders obviously aren’t happy about the whole ordeal, commenting that they should be compensated for their existing stockpiles that were “legally” obtained at the time, but Hong Kong so far says no, and this is a good thing because current loopholes would just enable them to get more before the deadlines came around.
The World Wildlife Fund, which is known for tracking the endangered status of many animals worldwide says that this move on Hong Kong’s part is great news and should help deter illegal poaching. As a result, perhaps elephants will have a chance to spring back up to the numbers they once had.
“The Hong Kong government has listened to the people and legislators. It sends a message to traders that there is an absolute end to the ivory trade,” WWF-Hong Kong’s Cheryl Lo said in a statement.
Whether or not the new system will be effective remains to be seen, but it’s definitely not helping that there’s a several-year grace period before the laws could take full swing. These laws should have been implemented years ago to save the elephant population.