Hong Kong’s lawmakers have voted overwhelmingly to ban the trade in ivory, in a move campaigners described as “a lifeline for elephants”.
A similar ban was brought in across mainland China earlier this year. Ivory sales will be phased out gradually in Hong Kong, stopping completely in 2021.
Prior to the vote, demonstrators gathered outside Hong Kong’s legislature with signs reading: “Do you really need ivory chopsticks?”
“Shutting down this massive ivory market has thrown a lifeline to elephants,” said Bert Wander of the global advocacy group Avaaz.
How big is Hong Kong’s ivory market?
Ivory from animal tusks – mostly those of elephants – has been traded in Hong Kong for more than 150 years.
It is considered the world’s largest ivory market. WildAid Hong Kong, a conservation group, says the former British colony had a 670-tonne stockpile in 1989, when the global trade was banned.
Only ivory dating from before that period is meant to be sold there, but campaigners say the legal trade is often a cover for illegal activities.