The illegal wildlife trade is the unlawful harvest of or trade of animals and plants. This unsustainable trade is causing a massive decline in wildlife species around the world. It is the second biggest threat, following habitat destruction, against species survival. Many illegal wildlife products are sold as traditional chinese medicine or dietary supplements but there is little evidence to support their use. Some are even made into ornaments or furniture just to display a person's wealth and status.
Experts from TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, estimate that the illegal wildlife trade is a multibillion-dollar business. This trade is driven by high profit margins and prices are further driven up based on species rarity, which cause already vulnerable species to be pushed further to the brink of extinction.
Helmeted hornbills are one of the species affected by illegal wildlife trade. They have a casque as part of their beak known as ‘Red Ivory’, which is prized as trophies, ornaments, and status symbols. A study led by Dr. Caroline Dingle from the University of Hong Kong aimed to develop a forensic toolkit that can help identify the geographic origin of confiscated casque from seizures. The project, supported by Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, successfully developed a protocol to extract DNA from a hornbill casque which can point to the bird’s origin and can help illuminate more information on the poaching and international trading routes of the hornbill. The work of this project also directly addressed the targets of the Helmeted hornbill Conservation Action Plan, which will be vital in the conservation of the species.
Hong Kong is a major transit hub for the illegal wildlife trade. Between 2013 to 2019, over HK$767 million worth of trafficked wildlife was seized, including ivory from rhinos, scales from pangolins and parts from other endangered animals.
Recently Hong Kong lawmakers passed an amendment to include illegal wildlife trade in the Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance. This means that the amended legislation will help law enforcement to crack down on the organisations and leaders behind the international illegal wildlife trade rather than the individuals working for them. This is a massive step in the right direction for endangered species conservation.
Furthermore, as individuals, we can reduce the demand of illegal wildlife products by simply saying no. Before you buy something, always consider what it is made from and where it comes from. Together we can put a stop to the illegal wildlife trade by avoiding products derived from threatened species and swappin
Hong Kong Island Flag Day
OPCFHK Hong Kong Island Flag Day successfully concluded. Under the theme “ Cherish the Hidden Treasures”, over 2500 volunteers sold flag stickers featuring local biodiversity with 6 endangered species, Golden Birdwing, Green Turtle, Corals, Horseshoe Crab, Beale's Eyed Turtle and Indo-Pacific Finless Porpoise. OPCFHK aims to raise public awareness on the vast local biodiversity and understand the importance of protecting endangered species and ecosystem. Over HK$900,000 was raised from the Flag Day event which will be used to support local cetacean stranding cases, community & public education and local conservation research projects.
Apart from flag selling on the street on August 21, 2021, OPCFHK also launched Gold Flag Purchase of limited edition gifts. Our special thanks convey to Fundraising Committee Member, Mr Peter Wong who donated the panda face mask holders and SKYPRO which sponsored the tailor-made masks.