HKU-led study shows 60% of shark species threatened by shark fin trade
An HKU-led study found that global shark catches now exceed one million tonnes per year, more than doubled what they were six decades ago, threatening 60% of shark species.
HKU School of Biological Sciences Professor Yvonne Sadovy, lead author of the study said Hong Kong is the port of entry for about half of all officially traded dried shark fins globally, which is around 6,000 tonnes, but estimated that only 12% of shark fisheries are considered sustainable, while 25,000 tonnes of dried fins each year originate from unsustainable and often illegal fisheries. A 2017 study showed that 33% of shark fins found on sale in Hong Kong’s dried seafood stores were from species listed as Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature(IUCN). The study researchers urge consumers to reject shark fin products altogether, and for restaurant chains to refrain from selling and serving shark fin immediately.Read More
HKU biologist suggests delay in ivory ban in Hong Kong may spur poaching
A new study has examined how recent ivory bans – and gaps thereof – could help or harm the preservation of elephants. Ivory trade has fueled the rampant and ongoing poaching of these important animals across Africa, leading to unprecedented population declines throughout much of the continent. The study’s lead author, Dr Luke Gibson, Associate Professor of the Southern University of Science and Technology, Shenzhen, China and Honorary Assistant Professor at the HKU School of Biological Sciences, suggested that the closure of mainland China's domestic ivory market at the end of 2017 may shift more of the trade to Hong Kong as the full ban in Hong Kong won’t be implemented until the end of 2021. The researchers believe that mismatch in timing of the two bans may be inadvertently widening the window for illegal trading and smuggling, fueling the poaching of elephants in Africa.Read More
HKU students publish field guide on poisonous plants in Hong Kong
Students from the HKUSU Ecology & Biodiversity Society recently published a guide book named “Poisonous Plant Field Trip: Field Guide”, originally intended for their Poisonous Plant Field Trip held in June to teach participants on identifying poisonous plants in Hong Kong. The printed version of this field guide were only given to the participants of the field trip and the eVersion is now also available online to the public.Read More
Conservation Forensics Helping to Fight Illegal Wildlife Trafficking
Illegal wildlife trafficking is the fourth most lucrative criminal trade in the world and is estimated to generate up to US$20 billion in illicit revenue a year. Millions of animals and plants are traded every year threatening the survival of many endangered species. With more species on the brink of extinction, illegal profits surging and with no sign that the trade is slowing down, HKU School of Biological Sciences has adopted conservation forensics to provide authorities investigating illegal wildlife trafficking with accurate scientific data to use against traffickers. Watch the full video.Read More
HKU and Mainland scientists develop a scientific model for estimating site-specific metal toxicities in marine environments
A research team led jointly by Professor Kenneth Leung Mei-yee, Deputy Director of the HKU School of Biological Sciences, and Professor Wu Fengchang, Director of State Key Laboratory of Environmental Criteria and Risk Assessment at Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences (CRAES), developed a novel empirical model for predicting metal toxicities and deriving their water quality criteria (WQC) in different marine environments worldwide. The novel method developed by the team will greatly improve the management of metal and metalloids in coastal marine environments worldwide, as environmental authorities can employ this method to derive provisional site-specific WQC for facilitating better ecosystem protection with consideration of specific environmental conditions and potential influences of global climate change.Read More
HKU launches food app to help consumers make healthier choices in supermarkets
The HKU school of biological sciences and the George Institute for Global Health in Australia jointly developed an app called FoodSwitch HK to help consumers choose healthier food and drinks in the supermarket simply by scanning the barcode of a product. The app highlights the fat, salt, sugar and energy content of the product through a colour coded system and uses a star rating system to indicate the overall nutritious value. It also offers up a healthier alternative when available. The database contains nutrition information of 13,000 pre-packaged products in local supermarkets. Dr Jimmy Louie Chun-yu, assistant professor of food and nutritional science at HKU and a registered dietitian, said based on several studies, Hongkongers eat up to 10 grams of salt a day, twice the World Health Organisation's recommended daily intake. He hopes the new app can help consumers to make healthier choices.Read More
HKU medical chemists discover peptic ulcer treatment metallodrug effective in “taming” superbugs
A research team led by Professor Sun Hongzhe of the Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science and Dr Richard Kao Yi-Tsun of the Department of Microbiology, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, discovered an alternative strategy by repositioning colloidal bismuth subcitrate (CBS), an antimicrobial drug against Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) -related ulcer. The team revealed a bismuth-based antimicrobial drug for treating peptic ulcers can effectively paralyze multi-resistant superbugs, e.g. Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) and Carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae (CRKP), and significantly suppress the development of antibiotic resistance, allowing the lifespan of currently-used antibiotic to be largely extended. Director of the HKU Centre for Infection Dr Ho Pak Leung said CBS can disarm superbugs reducing them to almost sensitive strain which can be easily killed by commonly used Carbapenem antibiotics and is having a good potential for future clinical applications. A patent has been filed in the US for the discovery.