Stephen Metcalfe MP Welcomes Ban on Ivory Sales

04 April, 2018, 01:35 | Author: Andrea Terry
  • Ivory carvings seized by the UK Border Force at Heathrow Airport sit on display at Custom House near Heathrow in London

Britain is to ban sales of ivory in a bid to help preserve the world's dwindling elephant population.

It comes after a public consultation on the issue, in which 88% of the 70,000 responses backed a ban.

"Ivory should never be seen as a commodity for financial gain or a status symbol".

Those found guilty of breaching the ban face a maximum penalty of an unlimited fine or up to five years in jail, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said.

The number of elephants in the wild is believed to have declined by nearly a third in the past decade, and an estimated 20,000 a year are killed to meet the global demand for ivory.

In 2016, the United States adopted a near-total embargo but exempted ivory items older than a century and containing less than 50% ivory, the UK government said.

Nearly all antique ivory will be included in the ban, except for when an item is either very old or contains only a small percentage of the material.


Rare or important items, at least 100 years old, will be assessed by specialist institutions before exemption permits are issued.

The chief executive of Tusk, a charity that seeks to protect elephants, Charlie Mayhew, was enthusiastic about what he called "tough legislation", though he claimed that the "narrowly defined exemptions are pragmatic".

The WWF said around 55 African elephants a day are killed for their ivory, with their tusks turned into carvings and trinkets. "The ban will demonstrate our belief that the abhorrent ivory trade should become a thing of the past". The Chinese ban exempts ivory "relics", without setting a date before which these must have been produced.

"If we want to stop the poaching of this majestic animal, we need global action", she added. China has always been one of the world's biggest markets for ivory, but as of 2018 all trade in ivory and ivory products in the country is illegal.

Musical instruments made before 1975 with less than 20% ivory. Indeed, as recognized by the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species last September, "countries with domestic ivory markets that contribute to elephant poaching or the illegal ivory trade" should "take all necessary legislative, regulatory and enforcement measures to close [such] markets.as a matter of urgency". "Thanks to this move, in a few years' time we believe the same will be true for the trade in ivory".

Polling released by IFAW previous year revealed that the vast majority of the United Kingdom public want to protect elephants with a United Kingdom trade ban and do not wish to purchase ivory themselves.

Campaigners say the illegal trade in banned wildlife is estimated to be worth up to £17bn a year, and the legal global trade in ivory has exploited varying regulations in different jurisdictions.

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