Hong Kong the gateway for illegal ivory entering China

Video report by ITV News China correspondent Lucy Watson

Hong Kong is acting as the gateway for illegal ivory entering China - where the item is high in demand.

The ultimate prize in the illegal trade is the rare, much sought-after and expensive blood ivory which is cut from an elephant while it is still alive.

Ivory on sale in a shop in Hong Kong. Credit: ITV News

ITV News China correspondent Lucy Watson secretly filmed in a Hong Kong shop which was selling blood ivory.

The salesman told her that exporting ivory to China was illegal but knowing a customs officer or someone higher up in the chain could help in getting the item into the country.

Lucy Watson in a Hong Kong store. Credit: ITV News

The store later said it had done nothing wrong.

Sharon Kwok, from the AquaMeridian Conservation and Education Foundation, told ITV News that it was impossible to check everything that leaves Hong Kong so the answer to halting the trade is to target the consumer.

It's literally impossible to check everything going in and out of Hong Kong, so the ultimate answer is targetting the consumers because when the buying stops, that's when the killing stops.

– Sharon Kwok, ACE Foundation

Government registered dealers can still sell ivory obtained before the 1989 world ban but there is no sure way of knowing whether an item is legal or poached.

There is no sure way of knowing if a piece of ivory is legal or poached. Credit: ITV News

Authorities in Hong Kong have decided to destroy 30 tonnes of seized elephant ivory following similar moves in the US and China.

Authorities in Hong Kong are destroying 30 tonnes of elephant ivory. Credit: ITV News

When asked whether the authorities destroying their stockpiles would make a difference to demand, antique restorer Dacheng Chan told ITV News:

I think it will just increase the demand. Those people who like to speculate they think the prize of ivory will rise rather than drop.

– Dacheng Chan, antique restorer