Hong Kong’s conservation department will torch the world’s biggest ivory stockpile over the next 18 months, beginning with the destruction Thursday of one metric ton of seized items, Apple Daily reported Thursday.
The department’s endangered species advisory committee made the decision at the end of January to destroy the 28.86 metric tons of contraband in line with growing international practise. Committee chairman Shin Kam-shing said the ivory, valued at HK$1.4 billion (US$180.6 million), will be destroyed in batches of three metric tons.
Each item will be chopped into small pieces and shipped to a chemical processing center in Tsing Yi where the haul will be incinerated and finally buried in a landfill rather than going on public display as originally planned.
John Scanlon, secretary general of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, will witness the destruction.
The department said it will keep about one metric ton for education and research.
According to data from TRAFFIC — the Trade Record Analysis of Flora and Fauna in Commerce — Hong Kong is fourth in the world in the scale of its ivory seizures over the last five years, trailing China, Kenya and Vietnam. Hong Kong has been a major transfer and consumption center for ivory products, many of which are shipped to China and Thailand.
An antiques expert said the price of ivory has risen 20 percent in the last three years, and the planned destruction may push up the price by another 15 percent in 12 months.
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