Lawmaker Elizabeth Quat will be moving a motion to strengthen the fight against the crime of wildlife smuggling at a Legislative Council (LegCo) meeting on Wednesday.
The motion calls for an increase in penalties, stricter enforcement and the inclusion of offences committed for commercial purposes under the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance, within the scope of the Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance.
The motion also urges the government to allocate additional resources to stop the illegal wildlife trade and strengthen publicity and education in raising awareness on the part of consumers.
A recent report by the Kenya-based non-governmental organization Save the Elephants shows that Hong Kong has the world’s largest retail market for ivory.
According to WildAid, an international group which aims to eliminate the illegal trade in wildlife, an average of 96 elephants are poached every day for ivory products while over 35,000 are being slaughtered for trinkets and jewelry each year.
For WildAid, the motion “marks a critical turning point” in their campaign to urge the government to ban the ivory trade.
During the visit of the Chinese President Xi Jin-ping to the United States in late September, it was announced that both countries would “take significant and timely steps to halt the domestic commercial trade of ivory”, the U.S.-based magazine National Geographic reports.
A survey by the University of Hong Kong in 2014 revealed that 75% of the respondents expressed support for a ban on selling ivory in Hong Kong, while only 12% opposed it.