Hong Kong SAR is a signatory to the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, commonly referred to as CITES. This is an agreement between governments to regulate the sale of wild plants, animals and their derived products to ensure they are not over-exploited. Governments party to CITES co-operate with each other and monitor the flow of around 30,000 endangered species across their borders.
In essence, CITES is a licensing system that controls the import, export and re-export of endangered species listed in the convention’s three appendices:
Species threatened with extinction. Trade is not permitted in these species, unless under truly exceptional circumstances.
Trade in these species is controlled because unregulated trade will compromise their survival.
These are species that a country party to CITES has asked other countries to help regulate.
This system of permits enables endangered species to legally cross national borders but aims to ensure that they are not over-utilised and threatened with extinction.
It is also worth knowing that endangered species are protected by Hong Kong law under the Protection of Endangered Species Ordinance, Cap. 586 which makes it illegal to import and trade endangered species. Offenders can be imprisoned for up to 10 years and fined up to HK$10,000,000.
Members of the public who have information regarding the illegal import or export of endangered species are strongly encouraged to contact the AFCD enforcement hotline at 2150 6978 OR email the unit at email@example.com. All calls are strictly confidential and anyone who provides information which results in a conviction is entitled to a reward.