Good news for elephants and the animal welfare advocates fighting to secure their future.
Earlier this month, Hong Kong announced that it would phase out the legal retail of ivory. Banned throughout much of the world, the ivory trade has continued to enjoy some protections in Hong Kong, where as many as 400 traders currently have licenses to trade in the material.
Esmond Martin – a co-author of the 2015 Save the Elephants report – remarks on how Hong Kong factors into a vast international trade that is driving elephants toward extinction: “No other city surveyed has so many pieces of ivory on sale as Hong Kong,” he told CNN, explaining that researchers found more than 30,000 items crafted out of ivory for sale inside the city.
Another advocate, Alex Hofford of WildAid Hong Kong, referred to Hong Kong as “the dark heart of the ivory trade” and believes that the closure of the city’s legal market will greatly benefit global elephant populations.
These developments come in the wake of other outstanding news in the world of animal rights advocacy and environmental conservation. Ringling Bros. announced on January 11 that the famous circus act will phase out its use of show elephants a year and a half ahead of schedule (the company announced its intention of ending the practice earlier last year).
Additionally, toward the end of 2015, SeaWorld announced that it would end its orca shows, which have grown increasingly controversial following the release of the documentary Black Fish and a growing body of research that shows that the gargantuan creatures endure immense harm in captivity.
These are no small victories. Nonprofit organizations working for environmental protections and animal rights have been tackling these issues for decades. While these victories may not have come a moment too soon, they likely would not have come about at all without the tireless advocacy put in by thousands of passionate nonprofit professionals to raise awareness and get results.