Amanda Whitfort's research has identified Hong Kong as a hub for the illegal trade in endangered species. Between 2013 and 2020, customs officers in Hong Kong seized over HK$767 million in trafficked wildlife. These included over 22 metric tonnes of ivory, 70 metric tonnes of pangolin (scales and carcasses), 1,946 metric tonnes of illegal wood and 66 metric tonnes of other endangered species (mainly reptiles). Those quantities are conservatively estimated to equate to the deaths of over 3,000 elephants, 67 rhinos and 188,000 pangolins. Trafficked animals have been found to be laundered through Hong Kong’s traditional Chinese medicine industry, used as decorative arts, consumed as food and sold as pets.
The trafficking and laundering of endangered species are serious crimes with dire global consequences. Their commission requires the full weight of legislative response from the Hong Kong government. To better deter offenders, Ms Whitfort has advocated the re-classification of wildlife crimes as organised and serious crimes under HK's Organised and Serious Crimes Ordinance. She will discuss her research on wildlife offending and recommendations for law reform at a roundtable event organised by the American Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday Oct 13th 2020.