UK Government Falls Short in Modern Day Ivory Ban

Posted: Sep 212016

Earlier today, UK Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom announced plans for a ban on sales of modern day ivory. The UK already has a total ban on trade in raw tusks, or ‘unworked’ ivory, of any age, and the extended ban will therefore cover the sale of items containing ivory dated between 1947 and the present day. Trade in ‘worked’ items, such as works of art and ornaments dating from before 1947 (deemed ‘antiques’) will continue to be permitted. The government will consult with environmental groups, industry and other relevant parties to establish how and when a ban could be introduced, as well as any necessary exemptions, early next year.

In response, Tusk is part of consortium that issued the following statement:

Today’s announcement from the Government is welcome but falls short of what is needed. The proposals do not represent a near-total ban as promised. By focusing on ‘modern day ivory’, the Government has overlooked the huge problem of worked ivory dated prior to 1947 – which makes up the vast majority of the market. There are also questions to be answered about how these proposals will impact the import and export of ivory from outside the EU. Therefore, it is not clear that the proposals will lead to a material reduction in ivory bought and sold in the UK.

However, we welcome the indication from the Environment Secretary that the UK will vote in favour of the resolution at CITES to close domestic markets. The UK’s support for this motion, which is supported by African states and conservationists, represents a significant pledge on the world stage.

The evidence for a near-total ban on ivory sales is clear, while a new TNS poll today shows it has overwhelming public support. New legal advice published this week revealed how a near-total ban could be implemented swiftly through secondary legislation. The Government must recognise that such a ban would be the most effective step the UK can take to protect the future of elephants. Failure to do so will mean the UK neither meets its international commitments nor represents public opinion.

We look forward to seeing further detail from the Government and working with it to ensure new proposals bring the step-change needed to protect elephants.

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