Hong Kong’s legislature passed an amendment on Wednesday to include the illegal wildlife trade in the Organised and Serious Crimes Ordinance, allowing the authorities greater investigative powers.

wildlife trafficking
 Claudia Cheung of WildAid, Amanda Whitfort Associate professor of Law at Hong Kong University, Hon Elizabeth Quat and Christie Wong of ADM Capital Foundation.

Pro-Beijing lawmaker Elizabeth Quat, who proposed the bill, said that the amended legislation will help law enforcement to crack down on the organisations and leaders behind the international illegal wildlife trade, rather than just catch individual “scapegoats.”

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“Hong Kong’s recent seizures continue a decade-long upward trend that has seen the decimation of  multiple species including rhino, elephant and pangolin populations, globally, while the perpetrators  go free” said Amanda Whitfort, Associate professor of Law at the University of Hong Kong in a press statement.

Hong Kong Customs officers seize large shipment of illegal wildlife products from Nigeria to China.
Feil Photo: Alex Hofford.

“The enhanced investigative and punitive powers that will now be accessible to those local enforcement authorities tasked with combatting wildlife crime is a potential game changer not just for Hong Kong, but regionally. It should, if applied, result in much needed deterrence,” said Whitfort.

Secretary for Environment Wong Kam-sing said at the Legislative Council on Wednesday that the government “will continue to work closely together and share information with the law enforcement agencies at the origins or consumption designation of endangered species, to protect endangered species better from the origins.”

“At the end of the day, when it comes to protecting endangered species, stopping illegal hunting and illegal collection of endangered species is the most effective way to solve the problem at its root,” said Wong.

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Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.