Lawmakers gave the go-ahead on January 31 to a four-year plan that would phase out the city-state’s legal retail market, which conservationists and advocates say helps fuel the slaughter of more than 30,000 African elephants annually by serving as a cover for ivory traded on the black market. Approval of the measure, which the Associated Press reported passed by a vote of 49-4, comes more than two years after Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying promised to shut down the ivory trade, and more than a year after the government submitted a plan for ending sales.
In addition to shutting down the ivory market, the plan also includes harsher penalties for smugglers: Under the new law the maximum prison sentence will increase from two years to 10, and the fine will double to $1.3 million.
“Every positive step to us concerning elephants is good news,” says Philip Muruthi, vice president of species …
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