IFAW welcomes maximum fine for UK Company selling illegal ivory
Most of the items seized were shaving brushes stamped with "real ivory" and were on sale for prices of up to £1,100 each. Other ivory items seized included hairbrushes, glove stretchers and an elephant tusk.
Today, at City of Westminster Magistrate's Court, the company pleaded guilty to charges of keeping endangered species for sale contrary to Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulations 1997. They were fined £5,000 on each count and the ivory was confiscated.
The operation was led by the Metropolitan Police's Wildlife Crime Unit with the assistance of Gloucestershire Police and Avon & Somerset Police in recovering further ivory from searches of premises. In total, there were three premises searched in London, two in Gloucestershire and one in Somerset.
Andy Fisher, head of the Metropolitan Police's Wildlife Crime Unit, said: "The illegal trade in endangered species is one of the major threats faced by wildlife in the world today. It also damages local communities in other countries and helps to fund criminal networks. It is disappointing that this trade continues in the UK because as long as it does, more endangered wildlife will be killed and the criminals will continue to prosper. The Metropolitan Police, working closely with our partners in the UK and abroad, is committed to stopping this trade in London."
Raul Matamoros a Wildlife Trade Campaigner from the International Fund for Animal Welfare said: "IFAW congratulates the Metropolitan police for successfully bringing this prosecution, and we hope the case will serve as a warning to others who trade ivory illegally in the UK.
"It is unacceptable that despite an international ivory trade ban, an estimated 10,000 elephants are still dying each year for their tusks, some of which may be sold as carvings or trinkets in London shops and markets. Consumer demand drives this bloody trade and we urge people to remember that every piece of ivory represents a dead elephant."
Illegal ivory trade is a large problem in the UK. An IFAW investigation, documented in Elephants on the High Street in2004, revealed a thriving and uncontrolled trade in illegal ivory in UK High Streets and markets. A study of cyberspace also revealed that thousands of pieces of ivory were being traded each week on the Internet.
The trade in endangered species is controlled by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which has been signed by 166 countries. Trade is controlled by a system of government licences or, in the case of the most endangered species, commercial trade is banned.
Commercial trade in elephant ivory, other than antiques, is banned in the UK.
The illegal trade in endangered species is a very lucrative area of international crime and is thought to be worth ten billion US dollars every year. In London, the Metropolitan Police has seized more than 30,000 items made from endangered species since the launch of Operation Charm, an ongoing MPS initiative against this trade.