HONG KONG IVORY TRADE FACES TWILIGHT YEARS WITH BAN FROM CHINA|中國禁象牙買賣 最大零售市場香港產業式微

As world's largest ivory consumer, China plans to start closing the country's ivory carving factories and shops by March and ban local sales by the end of 2017. The move will definitely affect Hong Kong, the world's largest retail ivory market. The once-flourishing business is now facing its twilight years as Hong Kong plans to end local trading by 2021. Seventy-seven-year-old Wong Lai-ngan started carving ivory more than half a century ago and has seen the rise and fall of Hong Kong's ivory industry. == WONG LAI-NGAN ivory carver== It's pretty much all dead now. The Hong Kong government has pretty much killed it all. There are no more ivory imports and there's no business going out, so there is no more work. Decades ago, Wong's canvas was elephant ivory. Thanks to a 1990 ban on international ivory trading, ivory carvers switched to tusks from extinct woolly mammoths. In the industry's heyday in the mid-1970s, Hong Kong factories employed as many as 3,500 carvers. Today, however, only half-a-dozen part-time carvers are left, along with 10 to 20 full-time carvers. Hong Kong's ivory business will decline further as China announced it will shut related factories and shops by March and ban local sales by the end of 2017. Accordingly, Hong Kong's blueprint is to end local trading by 2021. ==CHERYL LO, senior wildlife crime officer, WWF== Hong Kong is still having an open market, so we are very concerned that a lot of these stocks left in China could be targeting Hong Kong to liquidate their stock or even to ship it around to other markets such as Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand. China, which is the world's biggest ivory consumer, is blamed for indirectly causing the mass slaughter of Africa's remaining elephants. Reportedly, Africa's savannah elephant population fell 30 percent from 2007 to 2014, to 352,000. == DANIEL CHAN Managing Director, Lise Carving and Jewellery== What is the cause of elephant deaths? Like the example I raised, have they learnt about that? Why elephants die? This is the change of natural environment, is that really caused by our business? Why don't they only punish people who kill the elephants? Hong Kong is the world's largest retail ivory market with some 450 licensed businesses in high-rent tourist areas displaying over 30,000 ivory items for sale. It is also a major transit hub for illicit trading in all sorts of endangered wildlife. Rising demand from China's growing middle class has driven up ivory prices, earning it the nickname "white gold." TRANSLATED BY:SASHA CHIU

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