By Danny Lee
The destruction of the city's massive stockpile of seized ivory will begin on Thursday, with top officials standing witness and the world's media expected to take note.
About three tonnes of ivory - 10 per cent of the stockpile - will be incinerated at Tsing Yi chemical waste treatment plant. The other 27 tonnes will be destroyed in a further dozen incinerations.
Hong Kong's role as a centre of the illegal ivory trade means it has one of the largest stockpiles of seized ivory. Officials hope their decision to destroy it will send a message to the world that the slaughter of elephants for their tusks will not be tolerated.
The tusks are often carved into elaborate artworks or turned into jewellery or chopsticks, with a huge market for the resulting products on the mainland.
Major retailers Chinese Arts and Crafts and Wing On stopped selling ivory after the government's Endangered Species Advisory Committee voted in January to burn the stockpile, a year after rejecting the idea.
Thursday's audience will include Environment Secretary Wong Kam-sing; Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department head Alan Wong Chi-kong; acting customs chief Luke Au-yeung Ho-lok; and Dr Paul Shin Kam-shing, chairman of the government's Endangered Species Advisory Committee.
Also expected is Dr Meng Xianlin, who oversees Beijing's commitment to the international Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites).
A government message posted on a Hong Kong elephant conservation Facebook page said: "The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, with the support of the Endangered Species Advisory Committee, has decided to dispose of the bulk of the ivory stockpile.
"The ceremony will signify the commencement of the first ivory incineration in Hong Kong and promulgate the protection and conservation of elephants."