The Legislative Council on Thursday passed a motion calling on the government to step up efforts to crack down on the smuggling of wildlife products.

The non-binding motion, tabled by the DAB’s Elizabeth Quat, received the backing of both pro-establishment and pan-democrat lawmakers. It calls for tighter restrictions on the ivory trade in Hong Kong with the ultimate goal of banning the trade altogether.

ivory rally
Lawmaker Elizabeth Quat and Acting Secretary for Environment Christine Loh at the rally. Photo: Alex Hofford, WildAid.

On Wednesday, activists from the World Wild Fund (WWF) and WildAid rallied against the ivory trade. Quat, as well as Labour Party legislator Lee Cheuk-yan and acting environment minister Christine Loh, took part in the protest.

ivory rally
Protesters calls for the end of elephant slaughtering for ivory. Photo: Alex Hofford, WildAid.

Cheryl Lo, WWF-Hong Kong’s Senior Wildlife Crime Officer said at the rally: “Tusks should not end up in ivory shops or as artifacts in people’s houses: they should remain where they truly belong with elephants. We hope that the legislators will make the right call to ban the ivory trade and save this majestic species from disappearing.”

ivory rally
Protesters call for the complete ban of ivory trade in Hong Kong. Photo: Alex Hofford, WildAid.

The global ivory trade has been banned since 1989 under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. In Hong Kong, it is only legal to import, re-export and trade ivory products acquired in Hong Kong before 1989 and certified by the government, according to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.

However, the city remains the world’s largest retail ivory market and has been blasted for serving as a transit hub for ivory smuggled from Africa, much of which goes to mainland China.

Earlier this year, a survey conducted by the University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Programme showed that 75 percent of Hongkongers support banning the ivory trade.

Vivienne Zeng is a journalist from China with three years' experience covering Hong Kong and mainland affairs. She has an MA in journalism from the University of Hong Kong. Her work has been featured on outlets such as Al Jazeera+ and MSNBC.