WCS congratulates Hong Kong’s Government for sending strong anti-poaching message

NEW YORK (January 28, 2014) –
The Wildlife Conservation Society congratulates Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department’s Endangered Species Advisory Committee for announcing last week they will destroy their stockpile of approximately 30 metric tons of confiscated ivory.

The announcement is seen as a major step in the effort to protect elephants from the ravages of ivory poaching. Hong Kong SAR is considered a major transit point for illegal ivory heading to mainland China.

The announcement comes in the wake of China destroying six metric tons of ivory on January 6th, the U.S. pulverizing a similar amount last November, along with recent destruction of stockpiles in the Philippines, Gabon, and Kenya. Earlier this month, the European Parliament passed a resolution recommending that EU Member States should destroy their stockpiles of illegal ivory.

In almost all parts of Africa, elephant numbers continue to plummet due largely to the demand for ivory, with an estimated 96 elephants poached each day in 2012.

Said Cristián Samper, WCS President and CEO: “The announced destruction of ivory by Hong Kong is a symbol of the world’s growing responsiveness to the ivory crisis. Hong Kong’s announcement clearly shows there is a global groundswell of support against the slaughter of African elephants for the illegal ivory trade. We congratulate Hong Kong on this bold move and we look forward to other nations joining these efforts to show the world that elephant poaching and illegal ivory consumption is unacceptable.”

Said Simon Hedges, WCS’s Ivory Trade Policy Analyst: “It is tremendously encouraging to see the Hong Kong government decide to incinerate its very large stockpile of confiscated ivory, as it sends a clear message that it will not tolerate ivory trafficking. Destroying stockpiles helps with efforts to combat the trade in illicit ivory because all too often in some countries, the ivory leaks out of stockpiles and re-enters the trade. In addition, securing stockpiles effectively costs a great deal of money, and so destroying stockpiles removes the need to spend a fortune keeping the ivory under lock and key.”

WCS is leading global efforts to save Africa’s elephants and end the current poaching and ivory trafficking crisis. In September, WCS launched its 96 Elephants campaign (96 elephants.org) to amplify and support the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) “Partnership to Save Africa’s Elephants,” in which WCS plays a key role, and which has committed to stop the killing, stop the trafficking, and stop the demand. The WCS campaign focuses on: securing effective U.S. moratoria; bolstering elephant protection; and educating the public about the link between ivory consumption and the elephant poaching crisis. WCS is also advising the U.S. Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking.

In Africa, WCS is supporting national governments to stop the killing on the ground in 14 of Central and Eastern Africa’s most important parks-- together harboring some 46,000 elephants and facing the greatest threat--from Nouabalé-Ndoki in Congo to Ruaha in Tanzania and Niassa in Mozambique. WCS recruits, equips, trains and deploys park guards using state-of-the-art law enforcement monitoring systems, and providing aerial and intelligence support.

In Africa and Asia, WCS is working with governments to stop wildlife trafficking at the source, transport and consumer ends of the chain. At the source, we build innovative intelligence networks across landscapes to pre-empt and prevent poaching. At transport nodes such as airports and border crossings we work with governments to help detect and stop trafficking using sniffer dogs, and also develop apps for customs officials and provide training for enforcement staff.

In China and elsewhere in Asia, we are focusing on reducing demand for ivory that drives the killing and trafficking. WCS focuses on mobilizing citizens from awareness to action on the poaching crisis. Our approach is to drive content, primarily through social media, that steers public conversation and enables greater participation against ivory consumption. Public action in turn supports and promotes pro-conservation government policy and enforcement.

Working with other partners to the CGI commitment, WCS is launching long-term, robust programs and campaigns to change consumer behavior and promote law enforcement efforts; producing awareness-raising materials that will spur behavior change and/or online action; and conducting standardized, replicable, public opinion polls and surveys in consumer countries.

STEPHEN SAUTNER: (1-718-220-3682; ssautner@wcs.org)
MARY DIXON: (1-347-840-1242; mdixon@wcs.org)
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)
WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. VISION: WCS envisions a world where wildlife thrives in healthy lands and seas, valued by societies that embrace and benefit from the diversity and integrity of life on earth. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in more than 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit: www.wcs.org; facebook.com/TheWCS; youtube.com/user/WCSMedia; follow: @theWCS.