Wild, Threatened, Farmed: Hong Kong’s Invisible Pets│Wildlife Trade Report

Animal Stories

This is a new wildlife trade report published by ADM Capital Foundation


Wild, Threatened, Farmed: Hong Kong’s Invisible Pets sheds light on the scale and nature of the city’s exotic pet trade, identifying key areas of concern regarding impacts on biodiversity; animal health and welfare; public health; and, ultimately, areas for potential policy and regulatory enhancement. Over the last two decades the trade in Hong Kong has grown and diversified, pointing towards a vast and high value industry. Our report reveals that over a five year period, four million live exotic animals were imported into Hong Kong from at least 84 countries for the pet trade. Over 700 species were identified, among which many face the threat of extinction in the wild. Nearly 800,000 animals arrived in some years. Reptiles consistently made up the majority.

Hong Kong’s importance is not just in the scale of the trade, but also the highly targeted pressure on rare and valued species. Animals have been discovered in Hong Kong’s market before scientists have even described them or studied their wild populations. Animal health and welfare issues are omnipresent, in part a result of a patchwork of legislation that has not kept up with the trade and allows the buying and selling of species highly unsuitable as pets. The risk of disease transmission requires assessment, both from an animal and public health perspective, and the government’s rhetoric on managing alien species needs clarification and action to ensure the protection of local biodiversity.

As a thoroughfare, a destination market, and a highly developed city equipped with world-class facilities and expertise, Hong Kong is in a position to take a more holistic approach to ensure the trade is suitable and sustainable.