Photograph by ALEX HOFFORD, EPA
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An ivory trader in Hong Kong polishes chopsticks made from ivory. Hong Kong, the world’s largest legal market for ivory, announced it will phase its domestic legal ivory trade.

Photograph by ALEX HOFFORD, EPA

Hong Kong to Shut Down Legal Ivory Trade

In a milestone announcement, Hong Kong’s chief executive announces a major win for elephant conservation.


In late October, we reported that Hong Kong announced it would “consider” shutting down its domestic ivory trade. Now, it says it’s ready to take the plunge.

“We will take steps to ban totally the sale of ivory in Hong Kong,” said Hong Kong’s leader, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, during a press conference after his annual policy address. He added that his government will do it “as quickly as we can,” but he didn’t offer details on when it will happen.

It’s exciting news for wildlife activists. Poachers slaughter about 30,000 African elephants each year for their ivory. And Hong Kong is the world’s biggest legal retail market for their tusks. It’s also a major transit hub for illegal ivory. Much of it heads to mainland China—the largest consumer of smuggled ivory.

Wildlife Watch will be back with more on exactly what this means for elephants, Hong Kong, and the future of the ivory trade.

This story was produced by National Geographic’s Special Investigations Unit, which focuses on wildlife crime and is made possible by grants from the BAND Foundation and the Woodtiger Fund. Read more stories from the SIU on Wildlife Watch. Send tips, feedback, and story ideas to