Hong Kong will destroy virtually all of its 29.6 ton stockpile of confiscated ivory in a process which could take over a year, NatGeo reports.
As the largest such event to date, Hong Kong's action signals an attitudinal shift that is turning ivory into a tacitly taboo product. So far, nine countries have eliminated all or part of their ivory stockpiles.
Hong Kong is both an ivory consumer and a key transport hub for illegal ivory entering China. In 2013 authorities intercepted about eight tons of smuggled ivory, including three large-scale shipments containing more than 3,300 tusks.
While destruction of such a sizable ivory collection will be a complicated and lengthy process, it will ultimately cut the costs of managing and securing the stockpile. Hong Kong also plans to regularly destroy all ivory confiscated in the future.
In January, 6.1 tons of ivory were destroyed in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, as part of a move by the Chinese government to clamp down on the illegal ivory trade.
In February, staff at several Hong Kong craft shops were covertly filmed offering advice on how to smuggle ivory through customs.
Hong Kong joins a growing list of governments that have moved to get rid of their ivory: Kenya (12 tons in 1989, 5 tons in 2011), Zambia (9.5 tons in 1992), Gabon (4.8 tons in June 2012), the Philippines (5 tons in June 2013), the United States (6 tons in November 2013), China (6 tons in January 2014), France (3 tons in February 2014), Chad (1.1 tons in February 2014), and Belgium (1.5 tons in April 2014).
[Image via Today Online]