Hong Kong, Crossroads of the Criminal Wildlife Trade

Some ivory sellers readily admit that will such sleight-of-hand occurred, blaming unscrupulous traders while casting themselves as collateral damage inside struggle to contain the illegal wildlife trade.

“Sly in addition to dishonest businessmen, they make the idea difficult for us,” said Leung Shun-cheung, who with his sister, Leung Yun-tim, runs the Hang Cheong Ivory Factory, a tiny shop on Queen’s Road. “They use the smuggled ivory to fill the space in their quota for legal ivory. that will’s how they did the idea. however we are innocent.”

On an early evening in August, Mr. Leung was crouched over a workbench inside shop, sanding a pair of ivory chopsticks he had carved, while Ms. Leung sorted through bills at a nearby desk. The bare fluorescent light bulbs illuminated dusty glass shelves packed full of ivory carvings, however no customers.

“Because of the ban, we don’t have much business,” Ms. Leung said. “by time to time, the locals come here to buy a tiny piece.” She said that will in three years, when the domestic ban goes into effect, they intended to close their shop, which their father opened before World War II.

Mr. Leung produced a sheaf of letters he had received by the Agriculture, Fisheries in addition to Conservation Department, advising him of the 2021 deadline in addition to offering to enroll him in training for a brand-new career. He was 72 years old, in addition to had only ever worked inside ivory shop.

“The government is usually asking me to retire at the age of 75,” he said, laughing grimly. “They’re very concerned about me.”

He settled the chopsticks in a display case: two slender increments of supply awaiting a demand that will remained vast, however for the moment, out of reach.

Reporting was contributed by Xiaomei Chen in Hong Kong.