Hong Kong - In a significant boost for Africa's elephants, leaders of Hong Kong's largest political party have announced plans to push for a commercial ivory ban in China.
On Monday, five lawmakers from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) announced at the party's annual Chinese New Year press conference that they would submit a suggestion to ban the domestic sale and transportation of elephant ivory in China for discussion in Beijing next month, when officials convene for annual plenary sessions of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
Hong Kong lawmaker Elizabeth Quat, a leading proponent of the ban, has been actively lobbying Hong Kong delegates to end the ivory trade in China. "A ban is an important message that shows the Chinese government is very keen on protecting animals and the Sino-African relationship," Quat said earlier this month.
Led by DAB chairman Tam Yiu-chung, the group of lawmakers recommended that China also increase public awareness and support for efforts to persuade the public not to buy or sell ivory. The DAB forms the backbone of the 36-strong bloc of delegates from Hong Kong, a historical hub for the illicit global ivory trade.
Translated text of the ivory ban recommendation drafted by Quat:
(14.) A ban on ivory and ivory products. Due to the increasing demand for ivory products, around 100,000 African elephants were poached between 2010 and 2012. If poaching doesn't stop, wild African elephants will become extinct by 2025. China has strictly followed [the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora] to ban all trade in rhino horn and tiger bone, so we now suggest to do the same for ivory. We suggest to ban the domestic sale and commercial transportation of ivory and ivory products, increase public awareness on the conservation of elephants and all other endangered species, and educate the public to say no to ivory.
Citing China's horrific bear bile farms as an example, the lawmakers also announced support for establishing the nation's first animal protection and anti-cruelty law, one drafted by Quat along with fellow DAB party member Choi So-yuk.
Speaking alongside Chairman Tam at the Monday press conference in Hong Kong were DAB vice-chairmen Chan Yung and Pang Cheung-wai, DAB party spokesman Ip Kwok-him, and DAB legislative councillor for Kowloon East, Chan Kam-lam. - Alex Hofford, WildAid