With an enviable world-class trade and logistics infrastructure, Hong Kong is unfortunately also one of the world's major hubs for the illegal wildlife trade. Increasing demand for wildlife products in Asia, and particularly in China, has seriously exacerbated the crisis. Transnational and organized criminal networks are behind this lucrative business, facilitating the illegal movement of humans, drugs, and money.
On May 1, 2018, the Hong Kong government increased its efforts to prevent the smuggling and illegal trade of endangered species by increasing the maximum penalty under the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap. 586). While this was a significant step in the right direction, we need a mindset change that recognizes the seriousness of wildlife crimes if we are to prevent the irreversible costs of species loss. In particular, stronger government-private partnerships, enhanced international collaboration, and recognizing of wildlife trafficking as a serious crime under the Organized and Series Crimes Ordinance (Cap. 455) are critical to ending wildlife trafficking.
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