One of Hong Kong's biggest auction houses, Poly Auction, has been urged by activists to openly declare a ban on the sale of rhino horn artefacts like other big players.
Over the last few days, major auctioneers Bonhams, Sotheby’s and China Guardian had declared they will be stopping all rhino horn sales.
But Poly Auction stopped short of following their example in committing to a ban.
In a statement sent to RTHK, Poly Auction said it “supports global environmental preservation and associated affairs".
“We object to any artefacts from illegal plantation and wildlife and will make efforts to reject them in the auction market,” it said.
Poly Auction was asked to clarify if this meant it had no plans to halt the sale of rhino horn items, and what steps it takes to reject illegal plantation and wildlife artefacts.
The auction house responded by saying they have no additions to make to their earlier statement.
Conservation group WildAid Hong Kong had appealed to Poly Auction – whose sister company, Beijing Poly International Auction, is China’s largest state-owned auction house – to follow the example of Bonhams, Sotheby’s and China Guardian.
The three auction houses had in quick succession announced their commitment to no longer selling rhino horn. Bonhams and Sotheby’s also scrapped planned sales of rhino horn items. International auction house Christie’s already had a ban in place.
Wildlife conservation groups have warned that the inclusion of rhino horn items at auction stimulated demand for the already threatened species, and pushes them closer to extinction.
Alex Hofford of WildAid Hong Kong said they welcome Poly Auction’s statement in support of global environmental preservation and their objection to any artefacts from illegal wildlife.
“But we don’t quite understand why they can’t mention the word ‘rhino’ specifically,” he said. “We hope Poly Auction can follow the lead of the Chinese government and champion wildlife conservation by banning all rhino horn artefacts from all their future auctions.”