In 2019, Hong Kong customs authorities inspected a cargo ship bound for Vietnam. Hidden beneath slabs of frozen meat were 8.3 metric tons of illegal scales from about 13,800 pangolins, and more than 2.1 metric tons of tusks from about 200 elephants, with a combined value of about $8 million.
This was one of the largest wildlife seizures in Hong Kong history, but far from an isolated incident. In 2018 and 2019, Hong Kong authorities confiscated more than 649 metric tons of illegal wildlife and wildlife products across 1,404 seizures, according to a new report by Hong Kong’s ADM Capital Foundation (ADMCF). Wildlife crime is so rampant in Hong Kong that its wildlife seizures for 2019 equated to about a third of all wildlife seizures in mainland China — a jurisdiction more than 866% the size of Hong Kong and with about 1.4 billion more people living in it.