>> A milestone in the fight to end the ivory trade. China, on Friday, shutting down a third of its factories in retail stores selling tusks. The first step to an all-out ban by the end of the year. Conservationists say it's a key moment in the war on illegal elephant poaching.
But as Reuters, Farah Master reports, there's a major loophole behind the headline.>> So Hong Kong actually permits certain types of ivory to be imported into the city. So this is ivory that was originating from prior to an international ban that was in place in 1989. Hong Kong is one of the main feeder markets to China.
I mean actually, over 90% of the consumers who are buying the ivory in Hong Kong are from China. Hong Kong is not helping the problem by not changing their laws to coincide with how China is trying to end it. Because it's on China's border, obviously, there's gonna be a huge black market still for the ivory.
>> On the Chinese mainland, the push to end the ivory trade actually got an unexpected boost from the government. Beijing has been cracking down hard on luxury spending as part of an anti-corruption campaign. And the demand for tusks has fallen considerably. But as one environmental problem is gradually fixed others are unfolding.
>> While the demand for ivory is dropping, traders have turned to other kinds of materials like giant clams or other endangered species to try and substitute for the ivory material.>> Lawmakers in Hong Kong have meeting this week to discuss a potential ban to phase out the ivory trade over five years.
A time frame animal rights groups say is far too long. As the clock ticks down, the city's trade in black market ivory could grow rampant as the mainland shuts it out.>>