Hong Kong appears to be doing a good job in honouring its obligation as a signatory to the international treaty of wildlife protection, as reflected in the regular seizures of imported endangered animals and their products. Regrettably, the interceptions are not always followed by prosecution and punishment. Ineffective legislation and insufficient international cooperation on this front mean many smugglers can profit from illegal trading without punishment.
It is disappointing to hear that investigations into the city’s largest seizure of ivory tusks from Malaysia in July 2017 are not going anywhere. Despite the arrest of three people in connection with the haul, worth an estimated HK$70 million, there was insufficient evidence to support a reasonable prospect of conviction, according to the Customs and Excise Department. Officials would not elaborate further, saying details were not subject to disclosure due to operational reasons. With another seizure of ivory and pangolin scales worth HK$62 million earlier this week, all eyes are on whether prosecutions will follow.