Three-Year Timeline of Ivory Milestones in Hong Kong and Mainland China

Student-led protest to urge the Hong Kong government to ban ivory sales held in the ground floor lobby of AFCD's Kowloon headquarters. Students give AFCD 120 hand-written messages in the form of a large elephant collage. Photo courtesy of Alex Hofford.

For years, the Hong Kong’s government rejected eliminating its huge retail ivory market, and mainland China has shown itself to be more forward thinking.

Yet recent events—including evidence showing that Hong Kong’s ivory traders use the legal market as a conduit for illegal ivory, public protests against the trade, and moves in mainland China toward a ban—have prompted a switch in thinking in Hong Kong: a new openness to the idea of shutting down its retail trade.

Hong Kong and China both closely monitor events in the United States, where the idea of a ban on commercial sales of ivory is picking up steam.

The U.S. has crushed its ivory stockpile and also announced new restrictions on its domestic ivory trade. And New Jersey, New York and California, which have significant Asian populations, have all recently passed legislation that bans the sale of ivory in their states.

The following three-year timeline details steps in Hong Kong and mainland China that show a desire to reduce demand for ivory and slow down the killing of African elephants.


December 2012: Hong Kong government launches “Endangered Species Specimens Donation Program” to display forfeited ivory at schools to “educate” children about conservation by sending leaflets to schools. By the end of January 2013, more than 170 schools indicate interest.


April 16, 2013: Former National Basketball Association star Yao Ming launches major public awareness campaign targeting consumption of ivory and rhino horn in China in partnership with WildAid, Save the Elephants, the African Wildlife Foundation, and the Yao Ming Foundation.

May 14, 2013: China’s top actress Li Bing Bing joins campaign against ivory and rhino horn trade.

July 1, 2013: President Obama establishes Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking

September 2013: Hong Kong schoolchildren form the “Elephant Angels” and protest ivory in schools, saying it encourages demand. They return the —> Read More