Wildlife Trade in Hong Kong
Since the early 80s, attitudes towards trading and consuming wildlife in Hong Kong have changed. Despite this, snake and turtle products remain popular in the territory contributing to the decline of many Asian species.
Shark fin Trade
Alongside its many tourist spots, Hong Kong is also know as the centre for trade of shark fins, importing more than half of all shark fins worldwide. The volume of fins equates to the death of around 70 million sharks every single year.
Asian turtles of all species are traded through Hong Kong in vast numbers. Sadly, many animals die in transit, a fact borne out in an AFCD raid in which a fifth of 10,000 turtles seized had already died. After a huge effort by workers at Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden and 180 volunteers, 4,000 animals survived and found new homes at zoos and conservation agencies in Europe and the United States.
The CITES Management Authority of China has put in place measures to reduce the trade between SE Asian countries and China but the volumes are still of major concern.
Snake soup remains a delicacy in Hong Kong as well as mainland China. However, the skinning and killing of live animals for their bile and meat is unnecessarily cruel.
While there are snake ‘farms’ in China, most snakes – as many as 500,000 to 600,000 a year – are caught in the wild, putting intolerable pressure on wild populations. Estimates are that the wild populations have been decimated to the point where demand can only be satisfied by imports from Southeast Asia.
It is also worth noting that consuming snake bile or meat is not without risks. Three Taiwanese men, for example, contracted acute hepatitis after consuming snake bile for a week, while a man in Zhejiang was infected with an unknown snake parasite
Hong Kong is a huge importer of birds with estimates of song bird imports topping 100,000 annually. While the number has declined significantly, the volume is still a major cause of concern.