Published: Wed, April 04, 2018
Medicine | By Rogelio Lindsey

British Environment Secretary Promises World's Toughest Ivory Ban

British Environment Secretary Promises World's Toughest Ivory Ban

The sale of ivory in Britain will be banned in a bid to stop the "abhorrent" slaughter of elephants, Michael Gove has announced in a victory for a campaign backed by the Duke of Cambridge.

The robust measures will be brought into force through primary legislation and will cover ivory items of all ages.

"Ivory should never be seen as a commodity for financial gain or a status symbol, so we will introduce one of the world's toughest bans on ivory sales to protect elephants for future generations", Environment Secretary Michael Gove said.

It follows a Government consultation in which 88 per cent of the 70,000 people who responded said they would welcome a ban.

"The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has drafted an exceptionally strong ban on commercial sales, imports and exports of ivory which only allows narrow exemptions for accredited museums, certain musical instruments, and other narrowly defined exemptions".

Elephant conservationists claim that around 20,000 elephants are killed each year for their tusks, and say that reducing the demand for ivory would drastically cut the number of deaths.

Rare and important items of their type, which are at least 100 years old, will be assessed for their rarity and importance by specialist institutions before exemption permits are issued. The US federal ban exempts all items older than 100 years and items with less than 50% ivory content.

Museums. Commercial activities to, and between, museums which are accredited by Arts Council England, the Welsh Government, Museums and Galleries Scotland or the Northern Ireland Museums Council in the United Kingdom, or the International Council of Museums for museums outside the UK.

Some campaigners have been seeking a blanket ban, but Charlie Mayhew, the chief executive of the African wildlife charity Tusk Trust, described the exemptions as pragmatic. China's ban exempts ivory "relics". Although all commercial exports and imports of new ivory are prohibited internationally under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), domestic markets of supposedly legal ivory in some countries create loopholes that are used to launder trafficked ivory.

'But if we want to stop the poaching of this majestic animal, we need global action.

An IFAW report on the illegal ivory trade across Europe, titled Ivory seizures in Europe, 2006-2015, found that the European Union is still a destination for illegal ivory, a major transit route between countries and a key exporter of antique ivory to South East Asian markets.

IFAW would like to see the ivory ban in place ahead of the global inter-governmental Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference which takes place in London this October. Not only does the ivory trade kill innocent adult elephants, it disrupts family herds and leaves traumatized, defenseless orphans behind.

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