Hong Kong to destroy 28 tonnes of seized ivory

File photo: seized ivory tusks displayed by Hong Kong Customs officials in Hong Kong, 3 October 2013 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Hong Kong is a key transit point of illegal ivory entering mainland China

Hong Kong will destroy 28 tonnes of ivory confiscated from smugglers to discourage the illegal ivory trade, officials say.

The ivory stockpile, one of the largest in the world, will be incinerated in a process that could take up to two years, they added.

The decision comes after conservation groups urged the government to destroy the seized ivory.

Hong Kong is a key transit point of illegal ivory entering mainland China.

The government said on Thursday that it would incinerate 28 tonnes of its 30-tonne ivory stockpile, leaving the remainder for "permitted uses" such as educational purposes.

"In view of the management burden and the security risk generated by prolonged storage of the forfeited ivory stockpile, the [government] considers it necessary to dispose of ivory by destruction," the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said in a statement.

It has previously donated some of the seized ivory to schools for conservation education.

Activists say the demand for ivory - with China seen as the biggest market - is fuelling poaching in Africa.

The Chinese use ivory in traditional crafts, with carvings prized as status symbols, correspondents say.

In January, mainland China crushed six tonnes of confiscated ivory in a public event described by conservation groups as a landmark move.

The US and the Philippines have also taken similar steps in recent months.

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