The Hong Kong government requires licensed retailers to display their license to sell ivory obtained prior to the 1989 international ban, but none were visible at these shops.
Indeed, some question whether Hong Kong's licensing system accurately reflects the ivory market's actual volume. According to official government figures, Hong Kong's licensees held a total of 117.9 tons in 2013 - a figure that had remained virtually unchanged for the three years since 2010, and then dipping only slightly last year to 111.3 tons.
Yet during the same time period, tourism to Hong Kong surged from 30 million to 61 million visitors per year, of which 47 million came from mainland China. Also during the same time period, the amount of smuggled ivory intercepted at Hong Kong ports of entry also grew rapidly.
With such a leaky licensing control system in place, banning the sale of ivory in Hong Kong as the students have requested is the best solution to end the ivory trade and the elephant poaching crisis.