Project C:CHANGE, an environmental social enterprise, teamed up with The Elephant Society to organise a one-off Maasai March on Saturday to protest the ivory trade in Hong Kong.
Joined by over 50 participants including celebrities and representatives from WildAid – HK, TNC – HK and the Jane Goodall Institute, the march began at Hollywood Road Park and finished at Gallerie Huit in Sai Ying Pun.
The march was led by Sean Lee-Davies, founder of Project C:CHANGE, a Maasai tribesman and conservationist Daniel Ole Sambu from Big Life Foundation in Kenya (biglife.org) and Jamie Gaymer, Director of Conservation from Ol Jogi Conservancy (oljogi.org) in Kenya.
Making its way through the heart of the ivory trading district in Sheung Wan, store owners were less than pleased with the display of dissent.
“Some tried to hide their faces, others mocked the protesters, and a shark’s fin trader took his notebook and put it against my camera and tried to tell me we weren’t allowed to take pictures of him and his store and to get away. They seemed completely indignant and out of touch with what they were doing” said one protester.
The march was organised to support an upcoming motion at the Legislative Council tabled by Dr. Hon Elizabeth Quat entitled “Strengthening the combat against the crime of wildlife smuggling”. The motion calls for further restrictions on the trade of ivory so as to ultimately achieve a total ban on the domestic trade as well as other endangered wild animals and their products. Project C:CHANGE supports this motion.
The number of African elephants illegally killed for the purpose of ivory smuggling exceeds 33,000 per year, according to a survey by a wildlife conservation organisation and the latest scientific data available.
This has caused the number of African elephants in the wild to drop to only about 470,000. The practice further extends to the smuggling of rhino horns, fish maws and shark fins among others, and has even resulted in the near-extinction of some species.
Hong Kong is a free port as well as an international aviation and transportation hub; consequently, unscrupulous traders exploit the existing legal loopholes in Hong Kong to “launder” ivory, thereby turning Hong Kong into one of the international wildlife smuggling centres.
In recent years, this has had a serious negative impact on Hong Kong’s international image. The international community, including Mainland China and the United States, has announced a tightening of the existing legislation to halt domestic ivory trading in their countries.
The killing of elephants can only be stopped by putting an end to such a trade.