City-wide street art coupled with Augmented Reality brings trafficked animals to life – in a campaign to stop wildlife traffickers using our city
In the midst of a global biodiversity crisis, Hong Kong authorities seized a record breaking 991 metric tonnes (MT) of rare and endangered wildlife across 2,113 seizures between 2017-2020.
On August 18th Hong Kong’s lawmakers decisively voted in favour of a Members Bill to add wildlife crime offences to Hong Kong’ Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance (OSCO).The Bill is a significant move in the fight against wildlife crime, not just for Hong Kong, but regionally and globally.
It means that instead of its historic focus on prosecuting the low-level ‘mules’ caught red handed carrying wildlife contraband, the government has provided its enforcement agencies access to enhanced powers to investigate, prosecute, confiscate proceeds and sentence the organized syndicates and ‘masterminds’ behind the crimes.
Our small city holds a disproportionate role in the global illicit wildlife trade. Wildlife seized in 2018 and 2019 surpassed all annual totals for the preceding decade (excluding 2015). Figures indicate a shift in trade dynamics with ivory in decline, pangolins remaining at devastatingly high levels and a worrying diversification of other endangered species.
While the scale of the challenge is immense, Hong Kong is uniquely situated to play an outsized role in detecting, deterring, disrupting and dismantling the syndicates operating in and through the city. It is vital that decisive and incisive action is taken to change our city from being a hub for the illegal wildlife trade to become a global leader in the fight against it. Otherwise, as scientists warn, we will continue to inflict irreversible damage on the world’s biodiversity, and suffer the impacts long into the future.
Wildlife crime poses an immense challenge to the international community. By taking the bold move to move wildlife trafficking offences under OSCO, Hong Kong is not only showing global leadership, but is signalling that we will no longer stand by and let wildlife traffickers exploit our city, devastate wildlife populations and steal natural resources that impact local communities and national economies worldwide.
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