NEW YORK (January 15, 2016) --The following statement was released today by John F. Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Director of WCS’s 96 Elephants Campaign:

“WCS commends Hong Kong SAR – a key destination for illegal elephant ivory— for its strong announcement to ‘actively explore … appropriate measures, such as enacting legislation to further ban the import and export of ivory and phase out the local ivory trade.’

“WCS particularly welcomes the announcement made by Hong Kong’s leader, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, during a press conference following his annual policy address, where he stated, ‘We will take steps to ban totally the sale of ivory in Hong Kong’ and ‘we will do it as quickly as we can.’

“WCS believes this announcement is another critical step in saving Africa’s declining elephant populations that are at present relentlessly poached across Africa to supply the international ivory trade.

 “Additionally, Hong Kong stated that it would enact legislation ‘to strengthen enforcement and take rigorous action against the smuggling and illegal trade in ivory.’

“WCS hopes these measures will bring about similar actions from ivory consumer countries in Asia and around the world to help put an end to the laundering of illegal ivory through legal domestic markets.

“We call on Hong Kong to follow through on this landmark commitment as soon as possible and invite the global community to join us as we work together to Stop the Killing, Stop the Trafficking, and Stop the Demand.”