Hong Kong banned the sale of most ivory products on Friday, the end of a three-year process to end the trade. The Chinese city has been accused of playing a major role in the industry.
Small queues of shoppers were spotted outside some stores that sell ivory products the day before the ban came into effect, local media reported.
Hong Kong’s new rules ban the “import, re-export, and commercial possession of elephant ivory.” Offenders can be fined up to HK$10 million ($1.3 million) and imprisoned for up to 10 years.
A spokesman for Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said the government was “committed to the protection of endangered species, including elephants”.
With its busy port, Hong Kong is a significant transit point for the illegal trade in parts of endangered animals like elephants, rhinos and pangolins. Most animal parts are headed for consumers in mainland China. In 2017, Hong Kong authorities made their biggest ivory bust in three decades, seizing 7.2 tonnes of tusks valued at around $9 million.
A few months ago, Hong Kong passed a law that classified wildlife trafficking as organised crime.
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