Bingbing speaks out as undercover video shows illegal ivory trade still strong in Hong Kong despite a 1989 trade ban. Rough Cut (No reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION STORY: Illegally poached ivory from Africa is trading strong in Hong Kong despite a 1989 trade ban, according to a report by conservation groups. At a news conference organized by WildAid, undercover footage obtained by WildAid and WWF revealed Hong Kong ivory traders talking about the loopholes in the system, with some appearing to say they can refresh existing certified stockpiles with fresh tusks. Last month U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to cooperate in bringing an end to the poaching and wildlife trafficking crisis. They announced a commitment to "take significant and timely steps to halt the domestic commercial trade of ivory" in their respective countries, according to a fact sheet released by the White House at the close Xi's state visit. But much of the demand for ivory still comes from Asia. In China, a growing affluent class has increasingly sought ivory as an ornamental item. Some experts have reported that speculators in eastern Asia are stockpiling raw ivory, hoping it will fetch higher prices in the future. Chinese actress Li Bingbing, a spokesperson for WildAid, says her recent trip to Africa revealed a heartbreaking sight. "The way they do it is extremely cruel. They do not wait for the elephant to die before cutting off half its face to remove the tusk. Because the tusk is attached to the skull and it is very precious, so in order to harvest a whole tusk, the poachers cut off the elephant's face. You can imagine just how cruel this is," she told Reuters. Hong Kong is one of the largest ivory smuggling hubs in the world, with 8 tons of smuggled ivory seized in 2013 alone, according to the WWF. The Chinese territory has outlawed the import and export of African elephant tusks since the ban took effect in 1990, but shops are allowed to sell ivory products acquired before the ban. Under Hong Kong law, any person found guilty of trading endangered species for commercial purpose may face a fine of up to 645,155 U.S. dollars (HK$5 million) and two years behind bars.