Hong Kong says it plans to destroy most of its huge stockpile of confiscated illegal ivory.

Thursday's decision comes after similar action by mainland China, the U.S. and the Philippines.

Conservation groups had urged the government to destroy the stockpile to send a strong sign that it's serious about cracking down on the black market trade that is decimating Africa's elephants.

Officials said that starting in the first half of 2014, they would destroy 28 tons of ivory. The amount is so large that it would take "about one to two years."

Hong Kong has become a major transshipment point for illegal ivory sent to mainland China, with customs officials making frequent seizures of ivory passing through the city's busy port in recent years.